TCL offering three new high-tech industrial programs

The Technical College of the Lowcountry will now offer programs in solar photovoltaic technology, solar thermal technology and avionics to prepare students for high-tech careers that are in demand now and in the future.

TCL industrial technology instructors Rick Eckstrom (left) and Tim Newsome (right) work together on a 3,000 watt inverter and solar panel that will be used in TCL’s new solar technology programs.
TCL industrial technology instructors Rick Eckstrom (left) and Tim Newsome (right) work together on a 3,000 watt inverter and solar panel that will be used in TCL’s new solar technology programs.

“Because these programs focus on current and emerging technologies, graduates will gain the skills and training they need to be competitive in the job market of today and tomorrow,” said Dr. Ken Flick, Dean of Industrial and Business Technologies.

The Solar Photovoltaic Technician Certificate program requires 19 credit hours and will train students to install, maintain and repair solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. These systems are the solar panels and associated parts used to produce electrical energy to power buildings. Courses will include wiring techniques, concepts of solar energy and solar PV design, sizing and safety. After completing the program, students will have substantial knowledge of solar technologies and installations.

The Solar Thermal Technician Certificate program also requires 19 credit hours. It will teach students to design, install, maintain, and repair solar thermal systems, which provide sun-powered energy for hot water in homes and buildings.

The new solar programs will be a good option to help current electricians and plumbers advance in their careers but also will include background courses for beginners.

“The courses will build on the electrical and plumbing knowledge of existing tradespeople and teach them how to design and install solar systems,” instructor Rick Eckstrom said. “For those new to the electrical trade, background courses in tools and safety, electrical system design, codes, and practical hands-on skills will be needed. For those new to the plumbing trade, background courses in tools and safety, plumbing system design, codes, and practical hands-on skills will be needed.”

Job opportunities in solar technologies are on the rise across the country. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, solar employment is expected to grow by nearly 16 percent over the next year, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers nationally. About 45 percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period.

Jobs are available locally, too.

“Our service area should see an increase in installer jobs as costs are falling rapidly,” Eckstrom said. “With experience in installation, the certificate holder should be able to progress to system design.”

The Electronics Technology-Avionics Pathway Associate Degree program will also begin this fall. Avionics is the study of electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites and spacecraft. Though TCL has already offered a few courses in avionics through a partnership with Battery Creek High School, this will be the first time avionics classes are offered onsite at TCL. Students will be required to take 64 credit hours in electrical and avionics courses such as avionics general regulation, technical troubleshooting, aircraft electricity, and aircraft and weather radar systems.

TCL has already purchased a radar training system and other equipment through funds provided by its participation in the S.C. ACCELERATE Program, which supports the expansion of advanced manufacturing and industrial technologies.

Avionics instructor Jason Moore says technology is changing, which is making current avionics professionals come back to college. “Now that technology is changing, students, including military men and women, want to come back to school and advance in the communications field,” Moore said.

The avionics program will also prepare students to receive a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, which will put them a step ahead in landing entry-level positions at aviation companies such as Boeing, Gulfstream, Parker and XRDI. Jobs are available in the Lowcountry, including Beaufort County, Charleston, Savannah and surrounding areas.

Registration for the fall semester ends August 15, and classes start August 21. Prospective students can apply online for free at http://www.tcl.edu/apply.

TCL has campuses in Beaufort, Bluffton and Hampton. For more information about these programs, please contact the Industrial Technologies Division at 843-525-8241.

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