Alex Jahp returned to Solar Energy International (SEI) this month after beginning his solar installation training at SEI last fall. Alex’s solar career began after he was inspired by the impact of PV in the developing world. While travelling through areas of rural Africa, Alex was struck by just how big of a difference small PV systems could make in these communities, many of which have no utility grid. “I was mesmerized by the concept of how this could change the world. In areas like this, they might never build a grid. Solar is really changing these people’s lives; they can read books to their kids at night, they can prepare food at night, they can do all sorts of different things and I thought that was incredible.”
When he returned to the U.S. he applied to the work-trade program at Solar Energy International, working at SEI to offset the cost of his classes. Using his trade credit, Alex completed a full series of SEI classes, jumpstarting his solar career. Alex came to SEI with a degree in Economics and no experience in solar PV or in related fields. Despite this, Alex says the experience he gained from his solar installation training at SEI directly led to his current employment with an alternative energy company in Utah. “I would say it takes years for you to learn out in the field what I learned at SEI but I work with people who have been in the field for years and haven’t learned a lot of the things I’ve learned here. It’s just a really unique place because you have people from all over the country that are doing different things, and from different backgrounds, collaborating and sharing their experience in these classes.”
Like many who are starting out, Alex began on a crew doing grid-tied residential installs. From those residential projects, he began working on a 280kW commercial system. He worked with his more experienced colleagues, apprenticing with them to learn the ins and outs of residential and commercial systems before later getting involved in off-grid installs. His initiative to learn on the job and his prior training experience allowed him to grow quickly in the company. Now that he has greater responsibility in the company and is working on more complicated systems, Alex has come back to SEI to complete PV351L. This Operations and Maintenance Lab Week is an intensive, advanced training designed for solar professionals already working in the PV industry who want to take their technical skills to the next level and gain hands-on experience with a wide range of advanced analytical tools and meters.
Of his decision to enroll in class Alex said, “at my company, we’re working on bigger and more complicated systems. There aren’t many folks who I’m working with that know how deal with some of the more complicated problems we’re encountering with those systems. I came back to SEI to learn about these issues. I’m hoping to not only apply that knowledge at the company where I work but also to other systems in the area that other people have built that are either out of service or are having production issues.”