Future graduate prepares for career near home at LTC

February 8, 2013

From Wind Systems Magazine: “Innovations in Wind Energy Education” — Lakeshore Technical College, located in Cleveland, Wisconsin, offers a two-year associate’s degree program in Wind Energy Technology.

The program consists of 70 hours of coursework and training. Upon completion of the program, graduates are equipped with the education and training required by a number of wind energy careers: including: tower climber, installation technician and O&M technician.

Lakeshore’s program mixes classroom coursework with hands-on experience — including the opportunity to learn on the campus’s four operational wind turbines. Hands-on experience is also gained through a summer field internship or combination site analysis/lab, which are requirements of the program.

Sam Schwochert is in his second year in the Wind Energy Technology program, and is expected to graduate in May.

We spoke with him about his background and aspirations.

WIND SYSTEMS: What attracted you to the Wind industry? Why did you choose LTC?

SAM SCHWOCHERT: I enrolled at LTC to specifically be a part of their Wind Energy Technology program. I chose Wind because it is an interesting, developing field where I can learn a lot, travel, and make a good living. The technology changes quickly, and I like staying “up on it.” From the research that I did on schools that had renewable energy programs, LTC was one of the best, and it was also in my backyard, so this was an easy choice. My father has a long- standing interest in Wind turbines, and he’s always encouraged me to do something that’s both challenging and would allow me to make a living.

WS: What are your expectations post-graduation with your degree from LTC?

SS: After graduation this May, I would like to start by getting a job in “Big Wind” with any of the major players. Ideally I’ll begin on a turbine maintenance crew, because I think that is the fastest way to learn as much as possible. I’d like to move to Texas if possible, and my ultimate goal is to become a Mechanical Engineer and help to design Wind turbines.

WS: What is your prior experience?

SS: I was raised in Elkhart Lake, WI; a little town about an hour North of Milwaukee. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a love to anything that had some kind of mechanical function. I’m pretty sure this started by being around the family business, Rhine Auto, Inc. (a salvage yard), and working on my father and uncle’s stock car racing teams. We’ve won four out of the last six championships. Before starting school at LTC I worked as a landscaper and concrete laborer; I loved every minute of these jobs, but realized that that I wanted to get into something that had more of a mechanical bend to it, so here we are.

WS: Can you talk about last summer’s internship?

SS: During the summer of 2012 I interned as a Wind Turbine Tech with Kettle View Renewable Energy out of Random Lake, WI. LTC and my Wind teacher, Matt Boor, contacted us [students] weekly with internship opportunities. The boss at KVRE, Randy Faller, gave me every chance to learn everything I could, and I’m thankful for that. Other KVRE employees were also really helpful and eager to help me learn; I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of maintenance, and LTC helped me quite a bit with the electrical side of things.

WS: Specifically, why do you like working on Wind turbines?

SS: From what I’ve experienced so far, the job is something different every day. There is so much to learn that I haven’t even touched yet, and this is really inspiring.

Lakeshore Wind Energy Technology instructor Matt Boor encourages employers, to contact him through the program should they have interests in employing LTC students and graduates, including Schwochert.

The enrollment deadline for the program is in early August. For more in- formation about Lakeshore Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program, call 920-693-1127 or visit http://www.gotoltc.com/Programs/ windEnergy/.

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