Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Industry Spotlight: Wind Energy

Harnessing power from energy produced by wind is a developing industry, and many players in this industry have found valuable employees in veterans. According to the American Wind Energy Association Annual Wind Industry Report, new wind installations in the US place us on track to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity from wind energy by 2030, and veterans are filling the new demand for qualified employees in positions ranging from research and development, to plant operations, to environmental ecology, and even corporate support functions.

Former Military are uniquely suited for the following roles in Wind Energy:

· Field Service Engineers
· Maintenance Technicians
· Equipment Mechanics
· Water Quality Analysts
· Electricians
· Sr. Engineers
· Computer Science
· Research & Development
· Project Managers, Operations
· Research Scientist

A recent Military Times Edge article by Amanda Miller spotlighted Matt Wheeler, a First Lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard, who decided to make a career change using Orion following a deployment to Iraq in 2007-2008. According to the article, it was because of that decision that “Wheeler is now happily working as a site manager for Suzlon Wind Energy Corp., tending a wind farm of 78 turbines in Oklahoma.”

Wheeler began his career with Suzlon in 2008, and although he had no direct wind experience, Miller writes that it was “…his education — (he has an MBA) — and job experience, including his logistics work in Iraq, [that] helped prepare him for the job…” Wheeler told Orion, “This is exactly the position I have been hard wired for.”

As is the case with Wheeler, veterans have a leg up on the competition in the wind energy industry. According to a Suzlon spokesperson, Suzlon seeks to hire veterans because they have the electrical and mechanical skills necessary to do the job. In addition, they possess leadership skills, commitment, and integrity.

It is not uncommon for companies in the wind energy business to hire outside of their industry, as it is a relatively new industry. Miller quotes Wheeler as stating, “It’s only in the last three to four years that we’ve seen the skyrocketing growth [in the wind energy industry] in the U.S. that has resulted in a spike in demand for qualified people. There are not many people out there with direct wind education and/or experience.” Wheeler is right; veterans and employers alike are partnering to power this emerging industry.

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