Students looking to break into the world of solar energy will have a local option come the spring semester at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

CGCC will be offering a 63-hour program, entitled Photovoltaic System Installation, at the Sun Lakes Center, 25105 S. Alma School Road. After which, students will take an exam to become certified by the North America Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Students will receive extensive training and information regarding how photovoltaic solar systems work and how to install them.

Ruth Romano, director for Workforce Development at CGCC, was instrumental in designing the program and reached out to Valley companies to be sure that students had access to internships during their coursework.

"Arizona is the No. 1 state to not only produce solar energy but also to sell solar energy," Romano said. "I went out and met with businesses and all these places to make sure that when we developed this program, our students would be exactly what the businesses wanted."

Romano said students will perform about 30 hours for the internships that they call "externship," which involves going out to homes to watch over the installation process. CGCC has partnered with JBI Energy, a Tempe-based organization that helps companies specializing in renewable energy recruit new employees.

"The most important thing is whatever we produce, they darn well better be what the businesses want," Romano said. "It is important that the students know how to look and how to act on the job and, most importantly, what they know."

The Photovoltaic System Installation program is just one facet in CGCC's mission to offer options for students to break into the world of "green building." CGCC also offers Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate Exam Prep courses and Energy Audit Training. The LEED credential is nationally accepted and those who pass are acknowledged as having a detailed overview of all aspects of environmentally-friendly building.

"It shows that you have gone through testing and are taking the initiative to get into the green world," Romano said.

To find out more about CGCC's green initiative, visit

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