Rolling lab expands energy program

Chris Ellis, an instrumentation instructor at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus, talks at the campus about a solar and wind energy training system that can be wheeled into CMC’s new mobile energy lab, shown in the background. The mobile lab lets CMC expand the reach of its energy training programs throughout the state.

A new mobile lab will let Colorado Mountain College take its Rifle-based integrated energy technology program on the road, not just within the college district but across the state.

The lab will expand the reach of what has become the flagship program of CMC’s Rifle campus. It provides training in process technology, instrumentation, solar and biofuels, including a two-year degree, in order to help students get jobs or find better ones in the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors.

The lab, a truck to pull it and related equipment cost $170,000. The purchase was made possible by CMC’s $1.2 million share of a federal Trade Adjustment Assistance grant acquired by numerous Colorado colleges. Encana USA contributed $11,000 toward purchase of the truck, which is powered by compressed natural gas. Shell donated $15,500 to buy more equipment for the lab.

“The grant was submitted to get people into high-demand, high-paying jobs as quickly as possible,” said CMC’s TAA grant coordinator, Rob Winn.

CMC is using the grant to help it create a mix of online and in-person learning, combined with career coaching, that increases the ability of people to complete training including the degree program despite often juggling studies and jobs.

The mobile lab will help make things easier by bringing the classroom to people in cases where it would be hard for them to go to the classrooms. Equipment that can be wheeled into and out of the lab provides instruction in areas such as electricity basics, motor controls, fluid pressures and levels in a closed system, and solar installations.

CMC plans to use the lab first at its Edwards location to offer training for becoming an entry-level solar installer. Then it plans to set it up for a stint at Fort Morgan Community College, where it will teach CMC students far outside CMC’s district.

That’s based on agreements between some colleges in the state letting a school offer classes in another school’s service area if they aren’t already offered there.

The lab also could be taken to industry locations for on-site training.


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