There is no beating hands-on experience when it comes to developing skills and gaining first-hand knowledge that can be used after graduation. Students in the Residential and Commercial Electrical program at the WEMOCO Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center can attest to that, as they work on installing rooftop solar panels.
This is the first year that students in the program have had the chance to work with solar equipment, thanks to an initial donation of 12 solar panels from local company VP Supply Corp. The first generous donation led to more: IronRidge offered mountings and fittings to mount the panels on the roof; B&L Wholesale Supply donated roofing materials, including shingles; DiVal Safety Equipment, Inc. donated harnesses so the students would be safe working on the roof; MIG Building Systems donated a gutter to make the simulation similar to what students would experience in the field; and Lowe’s donated a cart to move and store the solar panels. CED Greentech even donated another 16 solar panels for permanent installation on the roof of the CTE Center, enabling students to observe and track actual energy savings.
Students began working on the solar arrays in September, shortly after the electrical lab was renovated to comply with COVID-19 protocols. Students began assembling the roof in the lab at the end of January; they have now completed roughly half of the work that needs to be done. The finished student-assembled arrays will eventually be deconstructed and saved for use by classes in the future.
Senior Brandon Barker (Brockport) was one of the first students to climb onto the mocked up roof structure and begin assembling the solar arrays. “I want to have solar panels on my own house [one day], and I don’t want to pay somebody else for something I am able to do myself,” he said. “This has been a great, hands-on learning opportunity!”