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Feb 19, 2020

Advanced Wind Technician Program opens new career opportunities for rural students

Oklahoma has vast energy resources, and opportunities are growing to support the clean power industry. 

High Plains Technology Center (HPTC) started its wind tech program 12 years ago, with an eye toward training workers for all of Oklahoma’s energy careers. “A lot has changed since then,” says Taylor Burnett, Asst. Superintendent of the school. “The program started out small, but wind is booming now.” 

Burnett says the Advanced Wind Technician Certification Program at High Plains typically enrolls between 12-14 students in a course, with two 20-week courses occurring each year. 

“When these students receive their certifications, they’re able to go and work on wind turbines anywhere in the world, as long as they have their passports. Ideally though, I want all of our students to find jobs locally and be a part of the booming renewable energy economy here in Oklahoma,” Burnett stated. 

The impact of HPTC’s wind tech program is far-reaching. The program is creating a robust talent pool that attracts multi-national corporations to Oklahoma for development. Because of this, the wind industry is already the number one taxpayer in 12 counties and 48 school districts, and that number is growing. 

Additionally, the wind tech program literally changes lives for rural students in Oklahoma, and beyond. Bryant Shepherd, an 18-year-old student from Woodward, Okla. heard about the program at a high school career fair. “The job stability of wind is what drew me to the program at High Plains. I can’t count on oil and gas to put food on the table consistently, so I decided to become a wind tech,” Shepherd said. “I hope to eventually work my way up to becoming a Site Lead.” 

Another wind tech student at HPTC heard about the program from her father. Bonnie Holloway is a 24-year-old student who decided to follow in her dad’s footsteps. “My dad has been a wind tech for 15 years. We’re from New Mexico, but my parents moved to Oklahoma for his work, and I decided to follow them. I was working in healthcare before and sitting behind a desk all day is not for me,” Holloway said. “The numbers also make a lot of sense.”