Learning about Solar ...

An interview with Kathryn Swartz of Solar Energy International at Solar Power International 13 - 10/22/2013While we were primarily looking for local folks to chat with at the Solar Power International 13 show, we did stop by several other booths. One of these was a group that was doing a series of live trainings at various locations around the show floor, Solar Energy International … which one could easily mistake for the conference name.

Solar Energy International has been around for a couple of decades, and is a non-profit educational organization based out of Colorado. Here’s what they say about their mission:

Our vision is focused on helping create a more sustainable future for our planet and its inhabitants. Through our work, we see clear opportunities to influence people’s thinking and behaviors towards energy efficiency and the use of natural, sustainable methods of energy production and utilization.

SEI recognizes the growing need in the solar industry not only for solar professionals to prove competency through certification, but also to show proof of rigorous professional training through a formal training certificate program. We meet this need with the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program. This program fully prepares students for a career in the solar industry.

Our Outreach programs continue to serve numerous people domestically and internationally. Solar In the Schools (SIS) reaches out to K-12 students and teachers through classroom presentations, teacher trainings, a lending library and a free online renewable energy course. SIS has worked with more than 12,000 students and teachers. SEI’s International Program provides training to groups around the world in using renewable energy technologies, primarily where electricity otherwise would not exist.

Additionally, SEI continues to work with Native American groups and nonprofit organizations, training people from the Western Shoshone, Skull Valley Goshute, Lakota Sioux, Yurok, Zuni, Hopi, and Chippewa Nations in renewable energy technologies.

They offer their “Solar Professionals Certificate Program”, with classes in a couple of locations in Colorado as well as on-line, and they seem to also have branched into other “renewable energy” fields with classes on wind power and “micro-hydro” (which I guess is water power not involving big dams), as well as coursework on rural development. In addition they have a rather impressive collection of materials available in their bookstore.

We ended up talking to their Executive Director, Kathryn Swartz, and here’s the overview she gave us:

While being based in Colorado (they have a 7-acre facility out there allowing for a “lab” environment for various renewable energy platforms, giving hands-on experiences to the students working there), they offer many classes on-line as well. They also have developed a school outreach with their “Solar in the Schools” program, and a curriculum for training teachers … plus there’s a free on-line course available aimed at high school students.

Obviously, Solar Energy International is one of the long-time proponents of alternative energy, and they are working to bring that knowledge to a wide audience.


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  • Incredible blog there, I’d love to get some extra information. sunstainable

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