VALPARAISO – Valparaiso’s alternative energy project has been named Innovator of the Month by the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana.
When a storm shut down power at the Porter County Career and Tech Center last winter, students moved from dark classrooms to hallways lighted by solar and wind power. This is just one of the benefits made possible by a team of instructors and students developing the first “green technology project” of any career center of 49 vocational districts in Indiana, said Jon Groth, the principal of the Valparaiso center and director of the program teaching 1,200 students in 35 vocational areas drawing students from 10 high schools.
“Every roof should have an array of solar panels and/or wind turbines,” he said. A third wind turbine built by students is to be installed this fall. Also a “solar energy farm” generating 7.7 kilowatts of power has been installed on the roof. This will allow the tech center to sell power back to NIPSCO generating an estimated $4,000 in revenue.
This project is interdisciplinary and relevant where students learn to build new technology and wire it into the conventional electrical system. “We started with one solar panel and agreed we could not only power part of our electrical system, but give our students practical knowledge and skills.” Add a new project in which Jon is raising funds to move the nearby 1912 Grand Truck Depot slated for destruction and transform it into a “green learning center” to teach 21st century skills.