BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The largest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere is being created in South Buffalo. Erie Community College is creating new courses designed to capitalize on SolarCity’s development.
“We realized this is an opportunity for us to increase the offers that we have in certificates and degrees,” Richard Washousky, ECC’s executive vice president said.
“We’re excited that we’re going to be able to offer some of the best training for these new workers at SolarCity,” Jack Quinn, the president of ECC added.
In the fall, a semiconductor certificate and associate degree program in nanotechnology will be available.
ECC hopes to have 75 students enrolled in both programs by September and more than 220 students within the first year.
“A one semester certificate, leads to a one year certificate, then a two year degree at Erie Community College to a four year degree somewhere else, all while working at SolarCity,” Quinn said.
Some of ECC’s faculty are ready to teach the new material. Sixteen faculty members were trained at Pennsylvania State University’s Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge Center.
A $5.75 million grant helped ECC buy the nanotechnology equipment, a nanofabrication cleanroom, portable clean room and two new labs.
“There’s a lot at stake and with all of this good news comes some responsibility and at ECC we’re taking that responsibility very seriously,” Quinn said.
SolarCity hopes to hire 1,400 employees by 2017. ECC can’t graduate that many students in that time frame so they are partnering with other schools throughout the state to prepare the workforce. Quinn said it is all about teamwork.