January’s WestEd board meeting centered on “Learning and Teaching in a Networked World.” During the board meeting we had the opportunity to attend two breakout sessions. I chose to attend a presentation by Laurie Maak, Senior Research Associate, Web-Based Communications. Her presentation’s title was, which is an “online community to cultivate the next generation of green workers by providing a career exploration experience to help high school and college-age students make informed choices as they build their pathway to the workforce.” Students who chose to take online courses can explore different green careers such as: Solar Installation Mechanic, Solar Energy Engineer, Wastewater Technician, and Environmental Director just to name a few.
Currently there are 490 students who are enrolled in. Also, students have access to 47 experts in the field of green careers. The experts are called Green Gurus and students are able to contact Gurus for career advice or to ask for project assistance in solving environmental issues. For example, Green Guru Saul Estrada is a green builder who was challenged to design a 12 office building for a client who did not have a budget to build a brand-new building. Using the concept of “reduce, reuse and recycle” Estrada reused 32 shipping containers stacked on top of each other to build 12 offices that included conference rooms, outdoor walkways, and staircases. With budget cuts and schools needing more rooms, an option to consider is to build additions to schools using shipping containers which drastically reduces building costs.
Another plus of the program is that WestEd has formed a partnership with Pacific Gas and Electricity of California, which furnishes Green Gurus and internships to students. During the breakout session WestEd mentioned that they would like to expand theprogram. I asked since they already had the lesson content could they partner with another utility company. Their answer was “Yes!” My response was since we have three large utility companies in southern Arizona (Salt River Project, Tucson Gas and Electric, and Arizona Public Service) would it be possible for to form a partnership with the Arizona utility companies and provide students with Green Gurus, internships, and opportunities to explore green careers and provide future green workers for state utility companies SRP, APS, and TG&E.
Laurie Maak, Senior Research Associate, indicated thatis interested in implementing the idea of forming partnerships with Arizona utility companies and providing work force education and training.
Laurie Maak can be contacted at: [email protected]
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