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June 2, 2008

Future Technology

FSU course focuses on 'future' of renewable energy technology

FROSTBURG - Participants in the new wind and solar energy-certified program at Frostburg State University learned how to install 900-watt solar panels during a recent hands-on session.

"I'm interested in renewable energy sources, and I wanted to get certified," said Sheila Hyde, an employee of Winters General Contractors in Oakland. Hyde plans to use what she learned to install solar panels to heat her swimming pool.

The program consists of an eight-week online course followed by four days of on-site training workshops.

"We have 31 students from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and we even have an international student from Barbados," said Hilkat Soysal, program coordinator and FSU professor.

"I enrolled in the program because it's a personal interest of mine," said Sean Sweeney, an engineer from Harrisburg, Pa. "I think there is a future in this technology."

Doug Wilson of Waynesboro, Pa., also enrolled in the course because he has a personal interest in renewable energy.

"When I lived in Florida, I was on a generator for 13 days after a hurricane, and you don't realize how much power you use," he said.

Wilson, who works in the air-conditioning industry, is interested in thermal energy.

During the course, participants learned the basics of photovoltaic/wind systems and resource assessments, components of PV/wind systems, setup configuration, sizing, wiring and controls, relevant sections of the National Electric Code, zoning laws and building codes pertaining to PV/wind systems, interconnection requirements and practical experiments, and demonstrations of different aspects of PV/wind generation systems.

FSU physics and engineering professor Oguz Soysal is the program director. Workshop instructors included Betsy Delozier of Big D Electric in Cumberland; Cliff Bennett, a local electrical inspector; Bill Poulin, director of products and services at BP Solar in Frederick; and Peter Lowenthal, executive director of the MD-DC-VA Solar Energies Industries Association.

Upon completion, participants will be prepared to take the certification test administered by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Inc.

Contact Jennifer Raley at jraley@times-news.com.

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