The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is continuing its dedication to conservation and sustainability through the support of solar energy initiatives and the UAFS Conservation & Sustainability House.
Through a partnership with Van Buren-based Energy Efficient Design & Development (EEDD), two summer programs will be offered dedicated to informing the public about solar energy and training prospective installers.
According to the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA), more than 770 advanced energy companies are doing business in Arkansas, reporting annual sales of more than $1.7 billion and employing nearly 16,000 workers. Another 9,300 advanced energy jobs in related industries account for $1.1 billion in sales, bringing the total impact of advanced energy on the Arkansas economy to $2.8 billion. Through its support of sustainable and advanced energy, UAFS helps prepare students to capitalize on this economic space and helps meet the state's need for qualified technicians as well.
UAFS and EEDD will present a five-day course July 8-12 at the EEDD headquarters in Van Buren, with field trips to the UAFS campus designed to provide instruction on both the technical working aspects of solar energy as well as the safe and efficient installation of solar energy collection systems. Upon passing the written and task portions of the certification course, participants will receive a renewable four-year Photovoltaic Installer - Level 1 license.
Participants will be introduced to photovoltaics, solar modules and solar cells, photovoltaic system design and development and basic electrical concepts, as well as proper protocol for conducting site surveys, paperwork, installation, testing and maintenance.
Retired UAFS Instructor John Martini, who was instrumental in the design and construction of the Conservation & Sustainability House and now works with the UAFS Center for Business & Professional Development, will conduct the course. Martini is a certified instructor with the Electronic Technicians Association.
“This class will provide the understanding and hands-on ability to design, order, install, commission, troubleshoot and maintain both grid-tied and off-grid solar PV systems,” said Martini.
In addition to the professional course, EEDD will offer a free, public event at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20. The Solar Night Open House will feature refreshments and will take place at the EEDD headquarters at 1224 Fayetteville Rd. in Van Buren.
At the June 20 event, Martini will have a solar collection system set up for demonstration and will be available to answer questions about solar energy and how it can be used to lower utility bills.
“Adding solar energy to your home can be cost effective as well as an environmentally friendly solution to trim your escalating utility bill,” he said.
More information can be obtained by calling EEDD at 479-926-7462. Registration for the certification course is available at EEDDinc.com.