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Solar academy prepares students for future careers

SunPower Solar Science Academy

California high school students get a chance to learn about solar technology and future careers at this summer’s SunPower Solar Science Academy.

The program targets kids studying science, technology, engineering and math and is meant to give the students real-world application for what they are learning in the classroom, said Bill Kelly, managing director.

They also learn about career opportunities and what is possible in the future if they succeed academically.

"As solar power plays an increasingly critical role in meeting global energy demand, students participating in the SunPower Solar Science Academy may be the engineers and business leaders charting our energy future," Kelly said in a press release. "In the process of learning about solar technology and energy solutions for residential, commercial and power plant applications, the students' enthusiasm and ability to understand complex concepts is very inspiring. SunPower is proud to provide this opportunity, and of the increased number of participants in the Solar Science Academy program this year."

Teachers also participate, learning new ways to incorporate solar research and energy into the science curriculum, he said.

“These teachers are really innovating in the classroom,” Kelly said.

The academy began as a pilot program in 2011. Last summer 140 students from six school districts participated. The program expanded this year to 250 students from 10 districts, Kelly said.

During the academy students design a project and perform an installation. They learn all the techniques and technical skills, like hardware mounting, and actually practice it, he said. They also take field trips to nearby installations and finish with presentations to a panel of industry executives, school board members, teachers and community leaders.

"At Edison High School, we are excited about working with SunPower to offer new opportunities to students and staff," said FUSD's Organization Development and Change Management Program Manager Ellie Honardoost in a press release. "The SunPower Solar Science Academy helps our educators bring relevant and real-life applications of knowledge into the classroom while preparing students for challenges of the 21st century. We're grateful for the chance to participate, and support development of our community's young people during the summer months."

SunPower is a global solar technology and energy solutions company, providing 36.1 megawatts of on-site solar power systems at facilities in seven of the districts participating in this year’s academy. In 2012, SunPower solar power systems delivered an estimated $5.6 million in electricity savings for 92 California K-12 public schools, a release said. SunPower designs and manufactures solar panels and systems for residential, business, government and utility customers.

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