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SEI Celebrates Over 20 Years of MC Hammer Pants and Solar PV Curriculum Development

Posted by: chris
May 30, 2013
Grab your VIP pass –Here’s a Behind the Scenes Look at SEI’s Curriculum Development Process
Blog by Laura Walters
- SEI PV Curriculum Team Member

Want a sneak peak into the major work that goes into keeping SEI’s solar electric curriculum the best in the country (and possibly the world)?!? Here is your chance to see where some of your tuition dollars go and why SEI classes are worth every cent.

Did you know that SEI’s solar electric design and installation curriculum has been evolving for over twenty years? Yeah, twenty – that goes back to the days of MC Hammer pants, Saved By The Bell, and floppy disks. Not a bad run…our curriculum has out-lived all these fads (well, I think Hammer pants are actually making a comeback, for better or for worse).

We have a PV curriculum team of six all-star staff members at SEI- continually thinking of ways to improve the educational experience for students. Every single one of us has over ten years experience in the PV industry, with different areas of expertise. The team gets input from SEI’s 35 contract instructors, all of whom work as installers/designers/business owners across the country, and throughout the world. We always attend all the largest solar shows in the country, read (and contribute to!) the industry publications, and continue to work in the field to stay current in this rapidly changing field.

In the wintertime when many people go into hibernation and Paonia grows (relatively) quiet, the curriculum team dives into our busy season. Every year we review all of our PV technical curriculum (currently including approximately 70 presentations, 70 exercises/labs and 40 quizzes, and two textbooks). We make updates for new code cycles, revise equipment information, update for new best practices, change the curriculum for increased clarity, revise additional resources, and add new curriculum based on what we are seeing in the field and based on student requests. We do this as a team, since there is power in numbers. And let me tell you, it is no easy task.

Since we have so many incredibly talented people giving input, it is always a challenge to take all the input and decide the best way to move forward (especially since things can be so different around the country and around the world). But it is the combination of these different perspectives, and the incredible amount of experience behind the people involved, that pushes our curriculum to the highest level.

On top of all this, our curriculum is regularly reviewed by independent instructional designers and by the top PV NEC expert, Bill Brooks. This is all quite an investment for the organization, and it is absolutely worth it since the curriculum reaches thousands of SEI students annually.

Yeah, no one is perfect…but we are all very proud of the work that we do and we are continually trying to make our curriculum more informative and digestible for our students! We may be behind the scenes (possibly wearing Hammer pants- ahh the joys of working remotely!), but we are always working hard for you.

Ok, so this side of SEI may not be as glamorous or sexy as pictures of students in action in our amazing PV lab yard, but it is a critical part of SEI and this process makes our courses what they are. So from all of us in the curriculum team, we sincerely hope that you enjoy your SEI courses and know that we are always here to serve you better!

Laura Walters - SEI PV Curriculum Team Member

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