(SWEETWATER, Texas) – More than 100 eighth grade students had the opportunity to harness the wind at Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus earlier this month.
TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program hosted Wind Activity Day for students from the Colorado, Floydada Collegiate, Hamlin Collegiate and Roscoe Collegiate school districts. The schools are part of Collegiate Edu-Nation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering rural students to reach their full potential.
“This is a growing event,” said Andy Wilson, Collegiate Edu-Nation’s program director. “We wanted our students to have exposure to the renewable resources we have in West Texas. We also wanted them to know that TSTC has a program in Sweetwater where they can make working in the wind industry a career.”
Colorado ISD students attended the event for the first time this year after earning a national berth at the KidWind West Texas Competition last spring. Harold Sowa, Colorado ISD’s lead STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teacher, knew that Wind Activity Day was a place for his students to be.
“We are here to pick the minds of different people,” he said. “Last year we made it to (KidWind) nationals, and this year we are looking to win.”
The success of Colorado ISD’s regional team led to more of its students showing interest in STEM activities.
“I not only have my wind students here, we also have our robotics team and audio/visual team,” Sowa said. “The STEM programs at our school are growing.”
Shelby Bennett, a dual enrollment representative at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus, helped organize the event.
“It was exciting to see the students exposed to renewable energy,” she said. “They enjoyed visiting our Wind Energy Technology program facilities and with our industry partners. My hope is that Wind Activity Day continues to grow.”
Matthew Hall, the Nolan County operations manager for renewable energy company RWE, was one of the industry partners who visited with students.
“The students of today are the future of renewable energy,” he said. “We have to have them interested in the industry. I wanted to open their eyes to what is available.”
The job outlook for the wind energy industry is bright. According to onetonline.org, the need for wind turbine service technicians in Texas was forecast to increase 102% from 2020 to 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in Texas is $56,640, according to the website.
TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion at the Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.