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Wyo. College Works with Hiah Schools on wind energy training.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- New wind energy classes offered at local high schools are giving students a jumpstart in a career in a growing green industry.

Michael Dauphin Jr. is a junior at Cheyenne's Triumph High and is already planning on entering the wind energy industry, which pays $40,000 to entry-level technicians.

Triumph High and Cheyenne's South High have just started offering wind energy classes. High-school students can earn early college credits that can be applied to the wind energy program at Laramie County Community College.

Dauphin, 18, said he will immediately enter the LCCC wind energy program after graduation. While the rest of the nation is in a recession, the wind energy industry is growing.

"It's a big, booming career," Dauphin said as he stood in a classroom. "People out of jobs should learn about it. It's a good way to raise a family because you're earning good money."

LCCC Wind Energy Program director John LaMorie said he is glad that the high-school wind energy classes may start sending more students his way. There are currently more wind energy jobs than qualified employees to fill the positions, LaMorie said.

"There are hundreds of job openings around the country for wind technicians," said LaMorie.

It takes about two years to graduate from the LCCC wind energy program.

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LaMorie said he gets calls weekly from companies looking for qualified technicians.

"If I was 18 or 20, this is where I would be," he said.

Dauphin said there also is a level of adventure to wind energy, because it can involve scaling 285-foot turbines.

Mike Wallace, the wind energy instructor at Triumph High, said he only has seven students in the class, but he believes it will grow. There is a lot of physics and some math involved in the classes.

Students in the wind energy programs at Triumph and South High get to work hands on with equipment in a laboratory. Each school received a Career and Technical Education Demonstration Site Grant from the state to buy lab equipment, said Jeff Stone, the career and technical education coordinator for Laramie County School District 1. The Legislature approved the grant funds to create new career opportunities in the state, Stone said.

A U.S. Department of Energy study has suggested that the nation could get 20 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2030.

LaMorie said wind energy is growing in Wyoming, but not to the extent of border states. Politics and the economy have slowed the development of wind energy in Wyoming, said LaMorie, adding that there are seven proposed wind farm sites around the state.

Dauphin likes the fact that wind energy is good for the environment.

"It's way healthier for the atmosphere," he said.

Before the wind energy class was offered at Triumph, Dauphin had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.

"When I heard about this, it beamed right in my head what I wanted to do," he said.
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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Author:Mitchell, Josh
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U8WY
Date:Oct 18, 2010
Words:497
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