One student worked in the steel mills for 36 years. Another student was a welder for thirty. There is a student in the room who is an electrician by trade and another who was a mechanical designer for 15 years. They share three things in common. They are all laid off, they are all trying to find hope in Lorain County Community College’s Wind Turbine (Alternative Energy) Degree program and they all spent time with the President.
On January 22nd, 2010, the President of the United States visited the LCCC Turbine lab. “It was an honor to meet him,” said Greg Ringler, the laid off welder, on his time with President Barack Obama. “I’m almost 50-years-old. I never thought I would go back to school but here I am in this program.”
The Alternative Energy Technology Degree program is Ohio’s first associate’s degree credit program in the field of wind turbine power generation. The Wind Turbine major will train students to become installation and maintenance professionals.
Thomas Hall was a commercial roofer for 20 years before the company he worked for went out of business. “The stimulus recovery act brought me here,” he said of his enrollment in the Wind Turbine program, “and it is a great thing.” Classmate Mark Foley agrees. “I saw this program available at Lorain County Community College and thought this would be a great avenue to pursue for jobs that would grow.”
“I was a steel worker for 36-years,” said John Marr. “I had been laid off for nine months when I decided to enroll in this program. I didn’t really see a future anymore in the steel industry and I needed to work. The opportunity is here,” he said of the LCCC program.
Not one of the turbine students, in their wildest dreams, ever thought their lab work would include an up close and personal meeting with the President of the United States. But, it happened. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Josh Labonte. “I was awfully excited to meet him,” said Dennis Little.