SCC's Mike Nelson holds up a Silicon Energy solar module showing Speaker of the House Frank Chopp how light passes through as state Rep. Maralyn Chase looks on. (More photos)
Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House in the Washington Legislature, and state Rep. Maralyn Chase got an up-close look at several key Workforce Education programs at Shoreline Community College.
Chopp and Chase met with SCC President Lee Lambert, Vice President of Academic Affairs John Backes and others before embarking on a walking tour Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009.
The first stop was at the Clean Energy Technology Center. The expanding program under Director Mike Nelson was recently rebadged from Zero Energy Technology. In the Zero Energy Technology House, Nelson showed examples of solar wafers, modules and system pieces that are all built in Washington. Nelson told the Speaker that classes in his program are geared toward skills that can help put students to work.
While at the house, Nicole Starnes Taylor, an architect with Make Designs Studio, LLC, shared conceptual designs for both a solar-powered carport and a Clean Energy Technology project building. The carport concept is a crossroads project of both the Clean Energy and Automotive technology centers. The idea is that current solar-electric technology can be used to create a solar-powered plug-in station for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Rep. Chase has been working on getting state start-up funds for the idea.
The concept behind the project building is to create an envelope, much like a large greenhouse, inside which normally outdoor projects, offices and other program functions can take place, out of the weather. In this case, much of the glass would actually be solar modules, potentially allowing the entire project to have net-zero use.
Chopp showed considerable interest in Nelson’s program, adding that beyond the jobs and energy benefits, he has a personal interest. “I’m designing what I hope will be our next house,” Chopp said, adding that he wants a solar component to the building.
Chopp said he understands the difficulty in getting capital projects funded, but added that he may have a solution coming in the 2010 Legislature. “We looking at introducing the JOBS Act of 2010,” Chopp said. “That’s, ‘Jobs and Opportunities for Better Schools.’”
The idea is that the state would sell bonds, with the revenue going to energy retrofit of existing buildings as well as some new construction. While the concept was generally intended for K-12 schools, Chopp said that there’s no reason the law couldn’t include community colleges. Chopp said the measure would likely pass the House, but because it would sell bonds, have to go to a statewide vote for approval. “Stayed tuned on that one,” he said.
Chopp asked a pointed question of Nelson and his program: “Why here, why Shoreline?”
Nelson’s reply came quickly: “Because they wanted us, they support us.”
That answer resonated with Chopp. “I’m not all bureaucratic,” he said. “I understand activism and that where there’s energy and desire, that’s where things grow and that’s where you support them.”
The tour then moved on to the Automotive Technology Center where Director Don Schultz talked about the program, its partners and the new building expansion.
“This program is all about jobs,” Schultz said. “Every student in the program has a job in a dealership. We have 100 percent placement.”
Schultz listed the manufacturers represented in the program, including: Toyota, Honda, GM, Chrysler, Volvo, Kia/Hyundai and Subaru plus Snap-on Tools, Hunter Industries and Chicago Pneumatic. Schultz then introduced Jim Hammond, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Auto Dealers.
“The partnership between Shoreline Community College, our dealers and the manufacturers is what makes this program unique,” Hammond told Chopp.
During the tour, Schultz pointed out how the millions of dollars contributed by industry partners allow the program to educate and train students that get jobs and pay taxes. “The top technician at Roy Robinson Chevrolet in Marysville, one of our students, made $148,000 last year,” Schultz said.
In addition, the partnerships mean that thousands of incumbent workers come to Shoreline Community College for additional training. “That’s education that the state doesn’t have to pay for,” Schultz said.
The partnerships also allow the program to reach into the K-12 system. “Last summer, dealer donations allowed us to bring in high school teachers from across the state for additional training,” he said. Schultz said he’s looking to the state to partner with industry to expand the K-12 component.
During the tour, which also stopped the CNC Machining program, Chopp acknowledged the difficult budgetary situation for the state, but also said he and other lawmakers are looking for solutions. He urged college officials to work closely with Chase.
“I’ve been looking for someone in the (Democratic) caucus to take the lead on these things and Maralyn is the one,” Chopp said. “She gets it.”