Northeastern Junior College's Wind Energy Program Is Entering a New Era

Located on the wind blown plains, yet only two hours from recreation opportunities in the Colorado Rockies, Northeastern Junior College has been a progressive leader in the realm of wind energy education for years, and the college’s Wind Energy Technology program is entering an exciting era of expansion.

May 26, 2023
Windmills on the plains at sunset

Wind Energy Technology Program

With a renewed focus on sustainability initiatives, this innovative program seeks to prepare students with the technical knowledge and hands-on experience required to become successful energy professionals. Through its comprehensive classroom curriculum enhanced by customized learning opportunities outside of campus grounds—such as real-world internships that can lead to employment in fast-growing wind companies—students are empowered to take control of their energy future. The sustainable impact that this program will have on our community cannot be understated; it marks a new chapter in Colorado's journey towards clean energy leadership.

“Preparing students for sustainable work is a priority for community colleges.  Just look across the horizon here in Northeast Colorado and as you drive most major highways and you will see the need for skilled workers in the wind energy field.   Those hundreds of rotating machines need constant maintenance and upkeep, and Northeastern Junior College graduates can expect immediate employment with great wages in an industry that will continue to grow.”   Mike White, President, Northeastern Junior College

Renewable Energy's future in the clean energy economy

With the Biden administration's recent push for clean energy initiatives, renewable energy has the potential to play a major role in the future of the American economy. Combining wind turbines with solar arrays and battery storage provides a unique solution to the intermittency of wind and solar energy. This combination allows for more consistent energy production throughout the day and night, which could lead to massive changes in the way we power our country. The American Infrastructure Act is also contributing to the growth of renewable energy by investing in the development of clean energy infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging stations and energy-efficient buildings. As this industry continues to grow, there will be a greater need for education and training programs focused on renewable energy technologies. The future of renewable energy is bright, and it's important that we continue to invest in this critical industry for the well-being of our environment and our economy.

Northeastern's innovation to develop technicians for good paying jobs

The addition of Solar to the curriculum

In response to industry leaders moving towards the combination of wind power and solar energy backed up by battery storage, Northeastern is incorporating solar energy into it's curriculum for the wind energy program. The philosophy of the combination is sound, wind turbines have the most megawatt hour production at night, while solar arrays produce during the day. With a generous donation of hundreds of solar panels from NextEra energy, a leader in the wind industry, Northeastern students will install, maintain and decommission solar arrays along side their wind energy training.

Hitting the road

With funding from both grants and investments from the Colorado State government, Northeastern has made an investment for the ability to provide education throughout the regions local communities. The faculty designed and built a mobile learning lab designed to provide an opportunity to explore energy technology at the area high schools and offsite locations. Additionally, the program acquired a mobile climbing tower that will enable students to practice climbing safety and rescue techniques at height.

The Applied Technology Campus

The Applied Technology Campus (ATC) expansion project which will start later this year, will provide a state-of-the-art facility for students to work on their energy projects. This facility will support future expansion of the program and contribute to the learning experience. It will further the wind energy program entering a new era to expand its clean energy mission.

Although construction is expected to take longer than initially estimated, supply chain issues are frustrating our projects. This project will not only benefit the wind energy program, but also local businesses and local communities. It will allow us to scale our program to meet industry needs and good paying jobs. The millions of dollars the State of Colorado made as an investment in the region will also allow for expansion of program offerings that are in high demand.

Wind Students Find Summer Internships

Accelerate your graduation and gain valuable experience with a summer internship! Students in the Wind and Industrial program can work and take a course over the summer to complete their Industrial Automation AAS and Wind Technician certificate in less than 2 years. Plus, employers get the opportunity to try out a new employee for several months to see if it's a good fit for their site. 

“The summer internship is great for students. They get a chance to apply their skills in real world situations and contribute as part of a team.” - Jason Hazlett

At Northeastern, we make sure every student is prepared for the job with our Industrial Electrical certificate and Job Training & Safety course. This ensures our students can contribute on the job and work safely in hazardous environments.

If you want to pursue a career as a Wind technician, NextEra Energy Resources and Invenergy are just a couple of the companies that hire interns. For Industrial Automation careers, you have a wide variety of locations to choose from, including Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Leprino Foods in Northeast Colorado.

Employers come to the Northeastern campus each spring to meet with students and conduct interviews. After receiving an offer, students are required to pass a background check, drug test, and physical. Typically, summer internships start in late May after spring classes end, and often lead to full-time employment after graduation. Don't miss your chance to accelerate your career!

View All News Submit a Story