35 Years of NCCETC: Training Program Prepares Future Clean Energy Workforce

In 2023, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at NC State University marks its 35th Anniversary. NCCETC has dedicated itself to the education of professionals and the provision of learning opportunities for decision-makers and the general public, focusing on solar energy and other renewable energy technologies. 

The NCCETC Training Program is committed to equipping individuals with the essential training and credentials to embark on successful careers in the clean energy sector. Moreover, it aids professionals in seamlessly integrating clean energy into their daily responsibilities. NCCETC has also provided train-the-trainer programs to many of North Carolina’s instructors who, in turn, offer local training programs that are affordable and accessible to local community members through community colleges and other educational facilities.. 

Building Resilience in Native American Communities

In 2022, NC State University announced it had been awarded a $5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help Native American communities better prepare for future disasters and emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. NC State’s PowerAmerica Institute partnered with NCCETC to work closely with Navajo Technical University, Sandia National Lab in New Mexico and Native colleges to engage with these communities.

Collaborating with the project’s technical leaders, the NCCETC Training Team is developing engineering education modules tailored to the requirements of Native communities for integration into community colleges. NCCETC’s initiatives aim to engage and develop new partnerships with minority-serving institutions, including tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs), and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

NCCETC also worked with solar training course instructors to offer its Fundamental of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Design and Installation as well as its Solar Storage workshop virtually in July and August of 2023. Each course had over 30 participants from multiple minority groups beyond the Native American community. Post-program evaluation will help customize the future curriculum for community college instructors and working technicians — builders, electricians and roofers — in Native American communities.

Creating a Highly-Skilled Clean Energy Workforce

Setting High Standards with Accredited Courses & Instructors

NCCETC became the only training provider in North Carolina to have been awarded as an Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Institute of Power Quality (ISPQ) Accredited Training Program Provider in 2004. After an intensive 18-month process including an extensive site assessment, the Center’s thermal and PV courses were awarded as IREC ISPQ Training Programs– the highest international accreditation standard for renewable energy training programs. In 2023, the Training Program will be seeking renewed accreditation with IREC for NABCEP PV Associate and NABCEP PV Installation Professional programs aligned with existing training courses.

NCCETC is also registered as a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Continuing Education Provider and a Photovoltaic (PV) Associate Provider. Training classes are evaluated and approved to provide continuing education credits for organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Building Performance Institute (BPI), NC State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors (NCBEEC), and the NC Department of Insurance among others.

The NABCEP Registered Training Program is dedicated to offering all-encompassing, top-tier classroom and practical education in technology, policy, and business subjects. Its goal is to foster the development of a sustainable and resilient renewable energy and energy efficiency sector in North Carolina and beyond.

Through the Center’s training programs, participants are able to begin their careers as a certified NABCEP PV Associate, continue their technical education with more advanced classes such as Advanced Solar PV Design and Installation, Operations and Maintenance of PV Systems, or develop their project management skills through a Certificate in Renewable Energy Management (CREM). Many students opt to take multiple classes through the unique Renewable Energy Technologies Diploma Series (RETDS), a 120-hour continuing education program geared towards anyone entering the industry. This program not only imparts valuable knowledge but also establishes a supportive network for those seeking to expand their professional horizons, encompassing installation, distribution, production, sales, and marketing of sustainable energy technologies.

Courses offered within the Training Program are conducted and meticulously crafted by industry experts with profound skills, tapping into years of prior experience to aid students in grasping real-world applications of classroom teachings. Leveraging his extensive 23-year background, David Del Vecchio, a solar instructor at NCCETC, adeptly translates technical subjects into understandable terms, making them accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

Educating & Empowering Energy Technicians

Collaborating with individuals and organizations seeking training, Allison Carr, the Training Program Manager at NCCETC, plays a pivotal role in influencing the direction of forthcoming courses provided by the Center. Carr emphasized the dynamic and expansive nature of the clean energy sector, stating, “The clean energy industry is undergoing rapid transformation and expansion.” 

Carr said, “Our aim is to create a tailored program that accurately mirrors the industry’s prevailing requirements of today. This ensures that participants not only secure employment opportunities but also actively contribute to organizations within the field.”

NCCETC is always looking for input from energy partners and leading organizations to guide instruction for new courses. Training Program courses are designed to cater to the evolving and maturing industry, serving the needs of both newcomers entering the workforce and seasoned technicians striving to maintain their up-to-date credentials. 

Custom Clean Energy Courses

Companies and organizations in need of specialized training can reach out to NCCETC to create a program tailored to their needs. “We collaborate closely with industry partners to craft custom course content based on their desired outcomes and learning objectives,” Carr said. 

NCCETC staff provided custom online, clean energy policy and technology training programs for the SC Office of Energy in April 2022 with access to course materials provided through August 2022. This custom Clean Energy Policy course can also be replicated for other audiences in the future. 

If you’re interested in renewable energy and want to strengthen your skills, see our training calendar online or sign up for the weekly newsletter to always be in the know about upcoming courses and ways to save on registration!