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Science Nation: Wind Energy

3 minutes

(male narrator) The wind in wide-open Wyoming can be brutal, but instead of cursing it, power companies are harnessing this nearly constant supply of clean energy.

(male) As wind farms grow and expand, they need trained technicians who understand the particulars about why this turbine does what it does. Run the studs all the way in, then get nuts and alternate them.

(narrator) With help from the National Science Foundation, Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne has expanded its technical training with a program in wind energy. Program director John Lamorie says there's heavy focus on safety and teamwork, like these drills.

(John Lamorie) Brent's gonna perform a ladder rescue on an injured victim on the ladder. Brandon will demonstrate self-evacuation in the event of a fire, where you must escape rapidly and you can't return inside. It's very exciting, because you know you could be doing this to save somebody.

(narrator) Students are tested early on to see if they can handle 300-foot heights. Two weeks into the program, coming to the windfarm, the students wear their personal protective equipment and climb turbines for the first time. If they're motivated afterwards, they like it.

(narrator) Wind power adds energy flexibility to a state already known for coal and oil resources.

(Doug Cook) We think that with the federal government's push on renewable and alternative energy sources, we have an opportunity to help our citizens understand what wind energy means to the state.

(narrator) In the United States, renewable energy has been at the mercy of changing political winds. But nontraditional students believe this is a career with a future. Once laid off, I had to decide what I wanted and what will be a business that's still gonna be around, because much of high tech has moved. It was part of a government retraining program. I love climbing things, so when this job started, I thought... what better workplace than 300 feet off the ground.

(narrator) With students from across the country and a waiting list for enrollment, things may be looking up for wind power. For Science Nation, I'm Miles O' Brien.

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Wyoming has long been known as an energy exporter, from oil to natural gas to coal. The state is now booming with two other resources: wind energy and qualified technicians trained to build, install, and service the growth in wind turbine technology. With National Science Foundation funding, Laramie County Community College in Wyoming is becoming a national leader in training.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Science Nation
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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Episode 2
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Episode 3
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Episode 6
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Episode 8
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