The Technical College of the Lowcountry has added three new programs to help people find jobs in two growing fields -- solar energy and avionics.
TCL will offer two certificate courses in solar technology and an associate degree in avionics beginning this fall, said Ken Flick, dean of industrial and business technologies.
Flick said the two solar courses will teach students how to install and maintain two types of solar technology systems -- solar photovoltaic, which produces electricity through solar panels, and solar thermal, which heats water using solar energy. Both will be taught at TCL's Beaufort campus.
The avionics program is similar to one the college offers through its Transitioning Military Program, which helps military personnel make the transition to civilian work. It will teach students about electronic systems on aircraft. The college has offered some avionics classes through a partnership with Battery Creek High School, but the courses starting in the fall will be the first offered through a degree program.
Flick said the avionics program, to be taught at Battery Creek High, will have new equipment, such as a radar training system, through funds from the S.C. ACCELERATE program, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor that offers money to schools to expand advanced manufacturing and industrial technologies.
Flick said the courses were created to place local people in high-tech jobs in both fields. Flick hopes to get between 10 and 20 students enrolled in each of the courses this fall.
The solar technician courses are geared toward students who have a working knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems, instructor Rick Eckstrom said.
In avionics, Flick hopes to connect graduates to companies like Gulfstream in Savannah and Boeing in North Charleston to find employment, as TCL does with its Transitioning Military Program. Opportunities with smaller companies are also available throughout the area, he said.
In the solar technology field, Flick expected to work with local builders to help students who graduate find jobs, possibly installing systems on new construction projects. There is a lack of certified solar technicians in the Lowcountry, and the area's weather makes it an ideal place for solar power and heating systems, he said.
Eckstrom said falling costs should contribute to a rise in new solar systems being built. Nationwide, over 22,000 new solar technology workers are expected to be hired in the next year, according to the National Solar Jobs Census.
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