The Higher Education Pipeline: Solutions to Connecting Industry & Potential Workforce

Recorded On: 08/12/2020


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This session will feature two panel sessions, the first providing an opportunity for industry to learn about undergraduate and graduate programs that provide students with opportunities for wind R&D, and hands-on experience. The second panel will present preliminary findings from NREL’s latest workforce gaps analysis, discussing opportunities for students to gain experience, exploring options for connecting industry and the potential workforce, including examples from other renewable industries.

Dr. Tom Acker

Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northern Arizona University

Dr. Tom Acker is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northern Arizona University, where he has been since 1996. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University.  His duties include teaching and performing research related to energy systems, power system modeling, renewable energy, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics. His research in wind energy relates to and wind flow modeling for distributed wind applications, optimization of off-grid energy systems, wind turbine aerodynamics, and wind integration on the electrical system. He has worked extensively with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the International Energy Agency on grid integration of wind and hydropower technologies. He is a member of the editorial board of Wind Engineering, serves on the board for the North American Wind Energy Academy, and is President of the board for the Western Energy Futures Institute.

Jacobe Caditz

SMUD’s Energy Education and Technology Center

Jacobe Caditz manages SMUD’s Energy Education and Technology Center, which provides free classes to help SMUD customers control their energy costs while making their homes and business more comfortable, connected, and sustainable.   Jacobe’s background is in public engagement and sustainable communities.  He combined his MBA studies at the University of the Pacific with two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.  For the past eight years, Jacobe has worked with schools and non-profits to help build better learning environments.  

Linda Church Ciocci

Ms. Church Ciocci represents the country’s largest renewable energy resource before Congress, key national policymakers, and the media. She is an expert on energy issues, and has served on numerous task forces and boards, advising other organizations, including the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and the Energy and Environment Study Institute (EESI) which she serves as Vice Chair. She has served three terms on the U.S. Department of Commerce Federal Advisory Committee on Renewable Energy. As a founding member of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), she is an emeritus member of the ACORE Board of Directors.

Ms. Church Ciocci was named one of the 100 all-time most influential people in the global hydropower industry last year by a major trade publication. She was the only woman chosen for this distinction and one of a handful of Americans to make the list. In 2014, she was named a Woman of HydroVision, nominated by industry as one of ten women acknowledged for their leadership and vision.

Before joining NHA, Ms. Church Ciocci served as an advocate and official at the American Public Power Association (APPA) and other organizations. She has worked on issues ranging from municipal bonds and taxation to economic development and public finance. 


Elise DeGeorge

Water Power Group at NREL’s Flatirons Campus

Elise is a manager for the Water Power Group at NREL’s Flatirons Campus, which includes both marine energy and hydropower.  She also serves as a project leader on wind and water power workforce development projects, wind wildlife projects, as well as hydropower projects. Prior to these roles, Elise supported the Wind and Water Power Program team as a program integrator, helping to manage and execute NREL's $50M+ program. Her expertise is in planning, analysis, and project management. Prior to joining NREL, Elise worked for 17 years at a global environmental consulting firm, MWH (now Stantec), where she worked on municipal engineering assignments across the project lifecycle. She also worked on management consulting assignments in the areas of sustainability and climate change, asset management, and organizational optimization

Jamie Mears

Project Developer with Ørsted Onshore North America

Jamie graduated from James Madison University in May with a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Science and Technology, concentrating in Energy and Sustainability Leadership. As a Collegiate Wind Competition alumna, she competed for three consecutive years and served as the student leader for the 2020 JMU CWC team, who was awarded first place in this year’s virtual Project Development Contest. In July, she started her new position as a project developer with Ørsted Onshore North America in Charlottesville, VA.

Remy Pangle

Executive Director for REpS & Managing Director of the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy at James Madison University

Remy Pangle is the Executive Director for REpS but also holds a position as the Managing Director of the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy at James Madison University (CASE/JMU). Mrs. Pangle has over 10  years experience in the wind industry and has led the Wind for Schools program in Virginia since 2010. In her current role as Managing Director of CASE/JMU, Mrs. Pangle works mainly with educators and school administrators to bring meaningful renewable energy education into the classroom. Mrs. Pangle earned her Bachelor of Science in Integrated Science and Technology with an emphasis on environmental science from James Madison University and her Masters of Science in Oceanography from the University of Maine.  Mrs. Pangle was the 2011 recipient of the Wind Powering America Outstanding Young Advocate Award and the 2013 recipient of the JMU Woman of Distinction Award among other accolades

Jeremy Stefek

Analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Jeremy is an analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. His research areas include workforce, economic, and community development for land-based wind and offshore wind technologies. Jeremy leads the wind workforce analysis efforts which seeks to understand the needs of industry, educational institutions, and students. He manages the Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) models and conducts economic impacts analysis.

Dr. Susan Stewart

Associate Teaching Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State

Dr. Susan Stewart is an Associate Teaching Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State.  She directs the Graduate Certificate in Wind Energy and the PA Wind for Schools Program; she is also the advisor for PSU Wind Energy Club and led PSU Collegiate Wind Competition team from 2014-2020.  She received her PhD & MS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2003 and 2001, respectively, and obtained a BSME from Penn State in 1999.  

Heidi Tinnesand

Research Engineer at NREL

Heidi Tinnesand is a research engineer at NREL and specializes in wind resource assessment, advancing distributed wind, and wind energy workforce development. Prior to joining NREL, Heidi worked for Vestas Americas and DNV GL. Her work included site suitability analysis using complex loads and terrain analysis for prospective wind farm projects, design and installation of data acquisition systems, and power performance testing of utility wind turbines.

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08/12/2020 at 11:30 AM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
08/12/2020 at 11:30 AM (EDT)   |  90 minutes