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City Tech’s Wind Power Courses Provide Window Into New Careers

Cullen Kasunic, vice president of NYC-based Wind Analytics, explains the principles of a small wind study to City Tech students. The pair of 95' water towers in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is tall enough to produce good wind power and is ideally located by the water, where wind is strong.
Photo credit: Debra Salomon.

While the country focuses on the disastrous Gulf Coast oil spill, City Tech is in the forefront of a grassroots effort toward workforce training in alternative, clean energy. The College has introduced new classes in wind power — perhaps the city’s only such college classes. 

Carol Sonnenblick, dean of City Tech’s Division of Continuing Education, explains the College’s decision to offer “Wind Power Workshop: A Hands-on Introduction to Small Wind Turbines (Residential and Commercial Buildings)” and “Urban Energy: Road Map for A Sustainable NYC,” which debuted in the spring and is being offered again this fall.

The wind power workshop runs on Thursdays from October 14 through December 16, and the urban energy seminar takes place on Saturday,
November 13.

“We are committed to preparing the unemployed for work, upgrading workers’ skills for job advancement and assisting career changers in finding viable sectors for employment in this challenging economy,” she explains. “Our research, conversations with industry representatives and active participation in economic development activities clearly indicate that sustainable energy and environmental concerns will shape the workplace of the future.”

The first Wind Power Workshop quickly filled to maximum capacity of 30, with 50 people on a waiting list. Says Debra Salomon, a Continuing Ed program developer specializing in homes, architecture and design, who created the course: “While there are lots of options to learn about solar power, there's not much training yet on wind as an alternate form of energy. These students are mostly professionals — architects, electricians and employees of non-profit organizations — who are willing to spend 40 hours to learn how they can contribute to going green.”

Students look at the buildings surrounding the site, noting their size and orientation relative to the towers. Although the water towers are the tallest structures in the area, adjacent buildings will shape the wind flow and are a factor in determining turbine type and size.
Photo credit: Debra Salomon.

Teaching the classes is Rob Ashmore, affiliated with Aeon Solar, and certified as a small wind installer by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and as a solar power installer by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). His students work in a classroom/lab in the College’s Environmental Control building, learning to put their new knowledge to practical use.

Says Ashmore, “Students are interested in and concerned about global warming and air pollution in their environment; they see the future of energy and want to get involved early on. The College is willing to take a chance on training people for this emerging field.”

Students study the basic principles for site evaluation, and the mechanics of turbines for typical rooftop residential and small commercial installations. They learn how to configure a system, produce, sell and promote wind energy, and get a system approved for operation on the Con Edison power “grid.” As part of this spring’s Wind Power Workshop, students visited Pier 41 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where developer Greg O’Connell plans to install turbines on the site’s water towers and harvest wind power to sell back to Con Edison.

The Wind Power classes, supported by Workforce Initiative Development funding from The City University of New York, are the latest Continuing Ed “green” offerings. Other classes include “Intro to Urban Farming,” “Green Roofs/Living Walls,” “Green Facilities,” “Solar/Hot Water & Heating System Workshop,” “Photovoltaic Installation” and “Building Performance Institute (BPI) Certification.” The College also offers certification in Sustainable Technology.

The Urban Energy series of seminars brings together stakeholders from various corners of the sustainable energy movement. The November 13 seminar features presenters from the New York City Department of Buildings, Con Edison and Wind Analytics, a turbine manufacturer.

Asked how the new classes appeared in such a timely manner, and whether the College might eventually offer such subjects as credit-bearing courses, Sonnenblick says, “One of the many interesting aspects of working in Continuing Education is that we can get courses, often in non-traditional formats, up and running very quickly. Working with faculty who have great expertise, as well as with industry experts, Continuing Ed can act as an incubator for new curricular projects. Some of them are then developed into credit courses or certificate or degree programs.”

The schedule and cost of the two courses are as follows:

WIND POWER WORKSHOP: A Hands-On Introduction to Small Wind Turbines
(Residential and Commercial Buildings) ECX 054
Thurs, 6 - 9 pm, 10/14 - 12/16 (no class 11/11 & 11/25)
24 Hours, $375

URBAN ENERGY: Road Map for Sustainable NYC  HHT 083
Sat, 1 - 5 pm, 11/13
4 Hours, $40

For more information on these and other City Tech Continuing Education course offerings, go to:


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