State Grant Helps Train Hibbing Students in Solar Energy

By KBJR News 1

June 18, 2012 Updated Jun 18, 2012 at 7:32 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - A state grant is helping students at Hibbing Community College get training and jobs in the solar energy field.

The Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training received a grant from the Minnesota State Energy Sector Partnership for a little more than $207,000. They partnered with Hibbing Community College, IRC Electrical and Silicon Energy to help fund a renewable energy program at Hibbing Community College.

The grant funds for course training and textbooks, so students don't have to pay for the majority of their course expenses.

"There's no way I could have taken it [the course] on my own," said student Tim Leino, "I mean I work full time. There's no way I could pay for school full time and keep up with work. There's just no way I could have done it."

The grant will also fund for paid internships for the students.

"The internships are the really big key," said Solar Energy Instructor, Jesse Dahl, "Being able to leave here as a student and have that in your back pocket, having possible jobs in your back pocket... that's huge. There's probably not too many places in the country that have the stability that we have here right now."

Students say that part of the draw to the program is that solar energy isn't going anywhere, which means neither are the jobs.

"I'm almost one hundred percent going to get a job out of here," said student Mickey Pearson, "That's what I was looking for, was how easy I could get a job out of college and solar was the way to go because it's just a growing field."

According to the 2011 National Solar Jobs Census, jobs in the solar field are expected to grow by about 24 percent this year.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.