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SEI Surpasses 30,000 Alumni and Students - Your Stories Are Our Stories!

Posted by: chris
May 30, 2013

“Your Stories are Our Stories…30,000 and Counting”
By Kathy Swartz, Executive Director

During our recent annual count of the number of alumni, we surpassed the 30,000th student who has taken training from Solar Energy International. As a visual reference, if you put everyone of our current and former students into Harvard's Football Stadium - it would fill to 100% capacity. (See photo above)

My favorite fortune cookie fortune of all time is… “Customer service is like taking a bath; you have to keep doing it.” We take customer service quite seriously—it isn’t just a one-time thing with us. Our relationship with our alumni doesn’t end after you pay your tuition and participate in your class or classes. It extends well beyond that: we are here to make connections for you; to help you find your dream job; to give advice; and to provide the support that you need to meet your goals. Our goal is to provide the best possible service and training so each person can meet their goals, because in meeting these goals, we are meeting our goal of having a world powered, heated, and run by renewable energy.

We love hearing from you about how you are meeting your goals after your trainings, whether that’s two weeks or ten years later.

Like Stephen Rogers, who is highlighted in our recent alumni spotlight. Or Colin Mitchell, an alum from 2000, who recently stopped at our Paonia campus. He is the Director of Commercial Sales at Array Technologies. Or Noble Mebom from Nigeria, an alum from 2008, who recently joined us for a Solar Hot Water class. He has a successful and growing renewable energy business in Nigeria.

May has been an incredibly busy month at SEI. Our training season at our Paonia, Colorado campus officially began with our battery-based PV lab week (PV301L), then our grid-tied PV lab week (PV201L), followed by Microhydro and Solar Hot Water. In total, 80 students from 26 states and four countries (Canada, Nigeria, Mexico and Denmark) were taught by fourteen instructors. Plus we had 175 students in our online courses in May alone!

But SEI is so much more than just the numbers. Each of the people who walk through our doors has a story to tell. Like Dave G. from Ohio—a building contractor who is following his heart to learn about solar. Or Justin B. from St. Louis, who recently graduated with a BA in political science but realized afterwards that solar is what he wants to be doing. (Good luck with your job interview!) Or Peter B. from Maryland who works for the Energy Star program but owns a renewable energy business in Cambodia. Or Kevin and Jared from Oceanside, CA. They have a successful grid-tied solar business, however, they wanted to expand their repertoire to include battery-based systems. Or William and Ron who are here on behalf of the United States Air Force and are tasked with bringing renewables to Central American bases. Or Dr. Dave from Missouri who is a medical doctor with a mission of creating a rehabilitation program for convicts. Or Michael B. (24 years as an electrician) and Louis L. (17 years as an electrician) from Quebec who are charged with starting a solar program at their college. Or Melissa S. and Sam G., owners of a solar company in Texas, who despite having extensive solar experience, came back for additional training. Same with Garret R. from Oklahoma, who said that SEI is responsible for him having a very successful solar business.

Not only have we had lots of trainings, May has been full of other happenings too!

  • PowerOne just donated a fantastic package of equipment for our Paonia training facility, consisting of microinverters, cabling, tools, and a data-monitoring device. Thanks PowerOne!

  • John Schehl, Executive Director of RISE Inc. visited. We discussed how SEI and the roofing industry can partner together even more. Plus, we had a great night at the local brewery and a fabulous dinner of local food at The Living Farm Café.

  • Joe Sarubbi with IREC visited. Joe is the Project Manager for the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network. IREC serves as the National Administrator. He was a trooper whose travels to Colorado included a blizzard and rock slide! He was joined by three colleagues from Utah, Ralph Tasker and Wayne Jolley of SLCC and Elias Bishop of UTSEA.

  • We’ve officially released the training dates for our NEW Solar Heating online course, which is being designed by industry experts Chuck Marken and Vaughan Woodruff!

  • And do you need continuing education credits??? We’ve released 3 new CE webinars. AC Coupling (by Greg Smith of SMA), Rooftop PV: What You Need to Know About Roof Systems and Rooftop PV: What You Need To Know About Building and Fire Codes by Jim Kirby from the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing.

June is shaping up to be another exciting month at SEI. Stay tuned as we have some surprises in store for you!  Until then, thank you for the work that YOU are doing, and keep sharing your stories with us because your stories are our successes!


Kathy Swartz
Executive Director
Solar Energy International
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