Officials from Colorado Northwestern Community College had already deemed their first-year power plant technology program a success. On Monday morning, a national association of energy companies validated the program.
Ed Winters, power plant program director, received a telephone call Monday morning from the Edison Electric Institute, based in Washington, D.C., informing him the program would be nationally recognized by EEI as an industry leader for education.
Only a handful of academic institutions have received a similar honor, Winter said.
"What this does," he said, "is it puts CNCC in the national spotlight for power plant technology."
Fifteen students are enrolled in the power plant program, an idea implemented by first-year CNCC President John Boyd to complement local energy companies with new, trained employees.
With EEI's endorsement, however, power plant program graduates are now on the radar of more energy companies than those in the Yampa Valley.
Winter said graduates will be administered a competency test or an entrance exam. Scores from the examination will then be distributed to all publicly traded power utility companies in the United States.
"Those students are, all of a sudden, exposed to those companies in all 50 states," Winter said. He said that EEI's endorsement would benefit the power plant program through job placement, networking and recruiting new students.
"That national exposure, obviously, is not going to hurt," the program director said.
Winter said local energy companies, which have partnered with CNCC on the educational program, will still be the college's top priority.
"Local companies are always going to be at the forefront," he said. "There are a lot of students going through the program that want to stay in the region."
After five semesters, students in the power plant program can walk away with an associate's of applied sciences degree. Classes begin in August of each year.
Winter said the program has been a success because it's supplying an important industry with the next wave of employees.
"We're answering an industry need," he said.
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.