Just three years after earning a wind energy associate degree from Laramie County Community College (LCCC), Travis Ford has been promoted by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, from technician to associate wind site supervisor. Among his first supervisory tasks is the hiring of nine technicians to maintain the expansion of the company's Limon Wind Energy Center located about 90 minutes from Denver, Colorado.
Ford said strong mentors and his education helped him advance quickly. "Definitely my background, the schooling at LCCC helped me prepare for being a good wind technician and being able to step into leadership roles as needed," he said. Ford graduated from LCCC's two-year degree wind energy degree program in the spring of 2011. He was promoted in April 2014.
Demand remains strong for graduates of LCCC's wind energy program, which has received two Advanced Technological Education grants from the National Science Foundation since 2008. Six of the eight wind energy students who will graduate from LCCC in May already have jobs lined up, according to Bryan Boatright, the wind energy instructor at the public two-year college in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He expects the other two students to have jobs in some aspect of power generation before they graduate.
The starting salaries of new LCCC wind technology graduates range from $45,000 to $60,000 annually, Boatright said. A technician who travels for work assignments receives a per diem allowance for expenses along with a pay rate of about $17 per hour.