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Energy Dept Launches New Solar Workforce Development Programs

May 27, 2022 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department has launched two new Solar Decathlon workforce development programs intended to extend the collegiate competition into high school classrooms and architectural studios across the country.

The two programs, Solar Decathlon Professions (SD Pro) and Solar Decathlon Pathways (SD Pathways) are intended to train professionals and inspire students to pursue careers in zero-energy buildings while also preparing them to thrive in the industry.

Through these programs, the department said in a press release, Solar Decathlon will provide participants with opportunities to learn from some of the competition’s most successful alumni, develop proficiencies in the latest sustainable building software platforms, and learn lessons that over 40,000 “Decathletes” gained from 20 years of designing and constructing zero-energy buildings.

“The Solar Decathlon is really a springboard to careers in clean energy,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at the Solar Decathlon 2022 Competition Event, “but we need to grow the ranks of big thinkers with bold ideas for new buildings that are energy efficient, affordable, and designed with our communities in mind. 

“That’s why we’re partnering with the American Institute of Architects to launch the new Solar Decathlon Professionals Program, which is aimed at imparting practical experience with zero-energy building design to professional architects and engineers,” she said.

SD Pro for Professionals

Slated to begin next month, the Solar Decathlon Professionals program was developed by the Department of Energy in partnership with the American Institute of Architects.

The department sees it as an opportunity for early- to mid-career design professionals to develop building science expertise, gain practical experience in designing zero-energy projects and earn continuing education credits.

The first 10-week course will be offered by the AIA in June. Those interested in learning more or participating are encouraged to email aiau@aia.org. 

SD Pathways for High School Students

This fall, the department will launch Solar Decathlon Pathways (SD Pathways) in an effort to inspire high school students to consider pursuing clean energy careers by connecting them to the Solar Decathlon’s extensive network of competition alumni. 

Alumni will work with students on activities related to the built environment and renewable energy, describe their own educational paths, and highlight career opportunities in the clean energy and high-performance building sector.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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