(SWEETWATER, Texas) – There is change in the air: a change toward renewable energy. And Texas State Technical College alumnus John Nichols is a driving force behind that change.
Nichols graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater in 2010.
He is now employed by North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction. He served as the company’s vice president of renewable energy from 2016 to 2018 and is now its senior director of business development.
Nichols credits his time at TSTC, coupled with hard work, for his success in helping to lead the charge for wind energy. He encourages others to take advantage of the rewarding industry.
“Wind energy is something exciting to be part of, and there is no better time than now to be part of the renewable energy revolution,” Nichols said.
Nichols was a nontraditional student who sold his successful real estate business in 2007 to pursue his passion for renewable energy.
“I remember John very well,” Rick Denbow, TSTC in West Texas provost, said. “Wind energy was an emerging industry at the time in far West Texas, but John saw how a technical degree from TSTC could prepare him for a great-paying career in the wind industry. I am not surprised by his success.”
After graduating from TSTC, Nichols worked for Siemens Gamesa, where he was promoted five times in six years, eventually becoming field engineering manager.
“I got to travel the world while moving up in the company,” Nichols said. “I spent 18 months in Brazil, Chile, Peru and other parts of Latin America working on wind energy projects.”
At Wanzek Construction, Nichols plays an active role in identifying new and creative ways to keep wind competitive in the renewable energy market.
“With new technology coming and the offshore market growing, we’re seeing a decrease in cost for wind energy, which makes it even more competitive with fossil fuels,” Nichols said.
In Texas, wind energy makes up 14.89 percent of energy produced statewide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“It’s an industry on the upswing, and it’s an industry people from all walks of life can be successful in,” Billie Jones, TSTC Wind Energy Technology statewide department chair, said.
Part of Nichols’ success, and what he looks for when recruiting new talent, is common sense and life experience.
“It’s important to have a passion and interest for this field. But also to be a good technician you have to have some common sense and be comfortable around machinery. You need to be reliable and be willing to do the work,” said Nichols.
Nichols hopes others will recognize the potential available to them in wind energy.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, log on to tstc.edu.