New Wind Power Scholarship Offers Life-Changing Opportunity for $1,000
Presque Isle – A new scholarship at Northern Maine Community College will allow eligible wind power students to live on campus for 9 months, eat meals in the dining commons, purchase books and tools, and graduate with their credential to service wind turbines. The total cost to the students? Only $1,000.
That’s the criteria established by anonymous donors who want to support students but also believe it’s important to invest in one’s own future. The donors defined their mission as twofold: to increase training opportunities for those priced out of a quality education necessary for well-paying employment, and assist in meeting the urgent need for qualified wind technicians.
The application deadline to receive these funds for the Fall 2023 semester is May 25th and all interested parties are encouraged to apply regardless of age or gender. Family housing units are available as well, so parents are encouraged to apply.
“This program can change the trajectory of an individual’s life,” said NMCC Wind Faculty member Wayne Kilcollins, author of Maintenance Fundamentals for Wind Technicians, the textbook used in wind programs throughout the country. “There are opportunities at every level – technicians, supervisors, managers – and our graduates are finding work locally and nationally, with some working overseas.”
State and federal investments in domestic renewable energy have renewed interest in wind power, but NMCC’s wind program existed long before this recent resurgence. Now entering its 14th year, NMCC’s wind program was New England’s first, and recently in the final stages of becoming an official Global Wind Organization training site. By becoming a GWO member, NMCC graduates would be GWO-certified technicians and uphold globally-recognized training standards.
In 2022, US Senator Angus King advanced a $2.1 million joint project between NMCC and Maine Maritime Academy requesting Congressionally Directed Funds to develop an offshore wind training program. The project was approved by US Congress in December as part of the federal budget. Now the two campuses are developing a safety training program and developing a comprehensive GWO registration website for employers to identify licensed professionals in the emerging field.
There’s also increased interest in offshore wind in Maine. In February, the Governor’s Energy Office issued the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap. This document reflects 18 months of research and is part of an effort to “Free Maine from its over-reliance on fossil fuels, to lower energy costs and volatility, and to curb climate-altering emissions to protect our state’s environment for future generations,” as stated in the document’s executive summary. Research shows that offshore wind is an abundant source of clean and renewable energy, and Maine is poised to be a leader in the field.
“In addition to offshore wind, the opportunities for onshore wind continue to grow in northern Maine,” said, Al Cowperthwaite, Aroostook County native and consultant to Longroad Energy. “The Maine Public Utility Commission has recently approved the King Pine Wind project, a 1000 MW wind farm that will be comprised of approximately 170 turbines. Large-scale, on-shore wind projects like King Pine Wind, which can deliver clean, reliable, and low-cost energy, also require the expertise of highly trained wind technicians. We applaud this effort and look forward to tapping these critical, locally trained resources in the future for King Pine Wind and for other projects across the country.”
To address this surge in demand, these private donors contacted NMCC to establish the NMCC Wind Power Scholarship with the intent of helping reduce barriers for students wishing to enter this career path. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must apply for the wind power technology program at NMCC, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), and take advantage of any state or federal grants available to them, whether it’s the Pell Grant or Maine State Grant. The donors will cover what’s left, as long as $1,000 remain the responsibility of the students.
Once the application deadline closes on May 25th, the Admissions team will review applicants and prioritize those who show an aptitude for STEM education, enjoy working with their hands, and show readiness to commit to the 9-month full-time course load. NMCC’s wind program includes courses in basic electricity, wind turbine drive systems, industrial electronics and more. One important trait to succeed in the wind program: students must not be afraid of heights. The curriculum includes plenty of safety training, but students should be prepared to climb towers reaching up to 300 feet high.
The NMCC wind program’s capacity is capped at 18 students, and the scholarship can provide up to $50,000 annually spread among students with unmet needs. According to the NMCC admissions department, the largest unmet need for students is campus housing and food costs (traditionally called Room & Board), which cost $7,818 annually. The cost of books and tools also poses a financial challenge. However, all of these costs are eligible to be covered by this new grant.
“These philanthropists are reducing some of the most challenging barriers facing our applicants,” said NMCC Dean of Development Griffin Goins. “This will allow students to come to NMCC from anywhere, live on campus, and focus on completing their credential. We have an impressive wind program led by a faculty member who’s a leader in the field. We’re honored to facilitate the wishes of these donors.”
To apply for NMCC’s wind power technology program, or if you’d like to learn more about this new scholarship opportunity, please visit nmcc.edu or call the admissions office at (207) 768-2785.
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