Solar Energy International celebrates 20 years of education

Solar Energy International celebrates 20 years of educationSolar industry experts from around the country celebrated Solar Energy International’s 20th anniversary in Carbondale, Colo. Aug. 13 to 15.

Solar Energy International offers training programs for solar industry workers. And it has offered training opportunities for 20 years. Many solar industry veterans got their starts with SEI in the days when they had to go in person to classes and learn about everything from the science behind what makes solar panels work to how to install them on a roof and connect them to the power grid through a homeowner’s meter, said SEI spokeswoman April Clark.

More than 200 people from around the country descended on little Carbondale over the weekend to honor the institution that helped them get their start and that is providing training for their current and future work force.

“We made a weekend of it,” Clark said.

The group went whitewater river rafting on Aug. 13, celebrated with a picnic, live band and party on the 14th.

The party was complete with a beer from Revolution Brewery named after the solar organization, SEI.P.A.

Founding members Johnny Weis and Ken Olson spoke about the evolution of the organization that started as a support network for a niche market and has become a training ground for workers in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.

“We had a lot of alumni come as well,” Clark said.

She said many of the alumni spoke about the impact that the organization had on them.

“It was a chance for the old timers to catch up,” Clark said, “and to bring in some of the newcomers.”

The party featured some solar-cooked goodies, including several vegetarian dishes. They even used solar cookers to melt crayons and make their own wax crayon creations, Clark said. A solar-powered bubble machine filled the air with soapy bubbles for most of the day and the group congratulated Solar Energy International on all of its accomplishments.

On Aug. 15, staff took visitors to tour SEIs solar photovoltaic laboratory in Paonia and finished the day with a meal at an orchard.

“It was a good opportunity, especially for a lot of people who took classes online and had never seen the SEI campus,” Clark said.

Image courtesy of the Aspen Times.