Reading, Writing, and Wind Energy0

Ysabel Yates | Tue Aug 7 2012

Like the spinning blades of a turbine, a new partnership between GE and Excelsior College is turning work experience into college credits.

GE employees can now earn college credits from completing the company’s intensive renewable energy services training program. This is the first time in GE’s history the company will award college credits to its renewable energy technicians for work experience.

Nearly 50 college credits can be earned after completing GE’s Lead Certification Standard, which involves over 500 hours of classroom and hands-on field training at GE’s Energy Learning Center (ELC) in Schenectady, N.Y., where GE’s renewable energy business is headquartered.

At the ELC, training takes place on actual GE wind turbine components, including the nacelle, which is installed atop a 200-foot steel tower and houses the wind turbine’s generating equipment.

Technicians are trained with a strong focus on safety to inspect and repair wind turbine components. Upon completion of the certification program, technicians become eligible to earn up to 49 credit hours for their work experience through Excelsior College, the leading nonprofit, regionally accredited distance education institution in the nation.

Excelsior College recently created a concentration in Renewable Energy Technologies within the school’s Bachelor of Professional Studies in Technology Management program. The general public will be eligible to register for this concentration beginning this week. GE’s technicians can apply their college credits towards the new degree concentration.

“The renewable energy college credits program with Excelsior College is important to us as GE employees because it recognizes the value of our training and rewards us for our classroom and practical work experience,” said Travis Anderson, one of the first GE service technicians to enroll in the Excelsior College program.

Anderson, GE’s site lead at the Blue Canyon Wind Farm in Oklahoma, has worked with GE turbines for five years. He helped to make the program possible, and enrolled himself. He is now eligible to receive 48 credits.

“Offering our employees the opportunity to earn college credits for completing our Wind Technician Certification Program not only enhances the value of our products and services, but it also enables GE to compete for—and retain—the skilled workers we need to support our globally installed base of wind turbines,” said Andy Holt, general manager—renewable energy services for GE Power & Water.