Questar III’s new Photovoltaic Installation course for adults is showing positive results for both learners and employers. The program teaches students how to install and maintain residential and commercial photovoltaic (solar energy) systems. It places students in internships around the region, and prepares them to earn industry-recognized certification.

The program was launched in the fall, and is currently in its second session, with a third session beginning on July 6. Students participate in several classes of lab work, followed by up to 240 hours in a paid internship. Karl Kunker, who teaches the course, taught Chemistry and Physics for 25 years. He provides students with hands-on experience that teaches them not only how to install solar panels, but also about the science behind this renewable energy.

A number of students from the first session of the program are now employed by the companies that hosted their internships. “You certainly want to get your foot in the door, and you are more than likely to get hired somewhere if you have this certification,” said Kunker, noting that there is a high demand for photovoltaic installers right now, with a growing interest in moving away from fossil fuels toward more sustainable sources of energy.

Students also undergo Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training by Mike Veeder, an instructor with Questar III’s safety team. While students are at their internships, they prepare for their field exam, which is offered through Questar III and is certified through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Student internships are currently hosted by Sundog Solar in Chatham, Veteran Solar Systems in West Sand Lake, and Kasselman Solar in Albany. Lessons take place at Century Solar Supply, offering students an opportunity to learn in a real industry-based environment. The course is currently made available through a grant from NYSERDA.

“The Questar solar interns integrated seamlessly into my install teams from day one,” said Steve Kasselman, president and CEO of Kasselman Solar. “They were highly motivated, eager to learn, and trustworthy which is why all four interns are now all full-time employees including benefits. They worked out so well we even paid them a performance bonus during their internship! We look forward to working with Questar again in the near future.”

The third session of the course will take place from July 6 through July 16 on Monday through Thursday from 8:30 to 2:30, with the internship portion from July 17 through August 19.

To find out if you are eligible to enroll, or for more information about the program, please contact Rebecca Collins at (518) 479-6913.