Iowa Lakes Community College recently celebrated the opening of its new Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies (SERT) building in Estherville. The facility will house seven ‘green’ programs: Engineering Technology, Electrical Technology, HVAC, Water Quality, and Sustainable Aquatic Resources, Environmental Studies as well as additional Wind Energy and Turbine Technology classes. Coursework will include credit classes, professional development options for employers, and continuing education certifications. The businesses and industries that support the college along with members of the communities in the five-county area were on hand for the public open house and ceremony.
“The facility celebrates industry and has so many design elements reflective of new technology that students and visitors can’t help but learn when they’re here,” said Jolene Rogers, executive director of community and business relations.
Rogers also announced a partnership with Snap-on. “Many strategic planning sessions will be held in the Snap-on Innovation Conference Room, named in recognition for their financial support for the building and for design work in so many of our labs.”
The SERT building will also be the new home to windtest, a wind energy company from Germany, which will maintain offices in the facility. In addition, the firm will influence students’ classroom experience and allow for potential internships.
Ryan Steinkamp, a student from Spencer, hopes to work with windtest during the academic year. He shared his vision for the future after completing his first year as a Wind Energy and Turbine Technology student.
“During my internship, I found myself quite well prepared as a result of my education,” Steinkamp said. “When I arrived on site, I was able to jump right into work with minimal extra training – something employers value tremendously.”
He plans to become an electrical engineer. “I believe the knowledge I have gained at Iowa Lakes will be applicable to many of my future assignments,” says Steinkamp.
Wind Energy and Sustainable Energy Director Dan Lutat says incoming wind tech students will be pleased with the range of wind industry equipment available. “For instance, students will train on a 2 to 3 MW Gamesa G87 platform. It’s a little unusual because that turbine can produce grid-ready power. That’s why you see the transformers and working electrical equipment by the generator. The machine will let us do high and low-voltage testing in the nacelle where we can individually activate cabinets for lessons. That lets us teach electrical safety as well. In fact, an OSHA team has been here to consider new safety regulations because conventional turbines put the high voltage transformers at the base of the tower. What you don’t see in the pictures is a hub from a Vestas V82 that will let us train on hub-mounted equipment, such as pitch controls,” says Lutat.
In addition, the school received gifts of 11 BM121 insulation meters from Megger so students can learn preventive-maintenance procedures on turbine cables and motors. “The meters will help students learn what cables are in good working order and which need replacing,” says Megger’s National Distribution Sales Manager David Danner. “What’s more, the meters have been calibrated and certified by TransCat at no cost to the school.”
Danner says his company has been involved with the school and others for about 10 years. “About that long ago, we decide to pick a handful of colleges like Iowa Lakes and support them as best we can with equipment and training. For instance, we’ve also provided insulation testing manuals for students,“ he says.
During the open house, attendees were able to view the building’s ‘green’ components, such as the sunshade on the east side of the building, which filters out 60% of the direct sunlight while providing a landscape view of rural Iowa and its wind turbines, geothermal pumps, a photovoltaic array, thermal pane glass windows, occupancy sensors for lighting, and hydration stations.
The photovoltaic system will help lower the building’s electricity bills and provides a learning lab for students. Sustainable, renewable, compostable dinnerware uses post-consumer recycled products and provides another way for the college to become more environmentally sensitive and to contribute less to area landfills.
Filed Under: News, O&M, Training