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GreenPower and Black Rock Solar showcase local opportunities for Sparks High School students

For 17-year-old Mansi Shah the chance to see a 200-watt solar array close up and personal is more than just “cool.”

“It’s awesome!” said Shah, who joined 24 of her classmates from Sparks High School last week on a tour of the newest of three solar arrays built by Black Rock Solar on the Carson City campus of Western Nevada College (WNC). “The chance to see how this form of renewable energy works is really neat. It’s even better to know that you can make a living working on things like this.”

The campus tour and education session was organized by Black Rock Solar and Reno’s Desert Research Institute GreenPower K-12 education outreach program. The students spent the afternoon learning  how solar panels save the college more than $38,000 per year in energy costs and what coursework the school has available for undergraduates interested in renewable energy technologies and hands-on industry experience.

“WNC offers students real world and field experience with solar energy technologies,” said Emily Howarth, a Professor in the college’s computer information technology department. “Demonstration days like this are important because we’re able to show high school students the opportunities in renewable industries like solar; anything from the installation and maintenance of arrays like the ones we have on campus to the design and modeling of new solar technologies.”

Black Rock Solar has designed and built several projects at Western Nevada College’s campuses, including a 49.4 kilowatt solar array at the Douglas Campus in Minden. In 2011, Black Rock Solar constructed WNC’s first solar array, consisting of 840 ground-mounted panels that produce 201.2 kilowatts. In 2012, a 418-panel system producing 100.3 kilowatts of energy was connected to the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Technology.

“This was a great chance to not only show students what life is like at one of the state’s community colleges, but what’s possible after graduation,” said Catherine Leon, Education Program Manager for Black Rock Solar. “We believe it’s important to prepare future generations in terms of renewable energy, climate change and reducing the use of fossil fuels as well as increasing Nevada’s energy independence.”

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