Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), in Superior, Wis., is working to develop a new geothermal heating core course for its Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Technology associate degree program. The geothermal heating course – a unique offering among Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges – will prepare program graduates and heating venting and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals to install, troubleshoot and repair geothermal heating systems.
“Geothermal energy is an efficient source of heating and cooling because it uses the core temperature of the earth to lower or raise the internal temperature of a building,” said Garry Krause, academic dean-Trade and Technical, at WITC. “We are seeing a very rapid rise in the number of installed geothermal heating/cooling systems in Wisconsin.” The technology, he said, is becoming less expensive and significantly cuts energy usage and utility costs for homeowners and businesses.
A complete program revision to include modern technologies spurred the development of the course, according to Krause. All revised or new curriculum will be completed using Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS) software within two years. WIDS, he said, is a non-profit organization providing competency-based curriculum design software, training and consulting. “We are working on the curriculum development as we speak, with help from an advisory committee and an experienced and certified instructor. WIDS provides us with a standard template that helps us meet outcomes and develop assessments and learning activities. It also helps us fill gaps in the curriculum.”
Upon course completion, students will have the competencies required to take the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association certification exam. “This certification provides the homeowner with acceptable installations to meet credits offered by the federal government, state government and utility company,” said Krause. “The credits can save owners of the geothermal systems thousands of dollars.”
The geothermal core course will build upon skills learned in previous program courses, according to Krause. But, it will also be open as a stand-alone course for HVAC professionals – offering them a chance to master the competencies needed for certification.
While Krause isn’t yet certain how the “green” course will be funded, its development follows a significant push by the federal government to “stimulate” the development of training opportunities for the field of “green” energy.
To discover more, visit www.witc.edu. To find out more about WIDS, visit www.wids.org.