GCC Launches 2 Certificates to Prepare Students for Employment in ‘Green’ Jobs

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gateway Community College (GCC) has launched two certificates this semester that are designed to prepare students for employment in Connecticut’s growing “green” economy, specifically the solar technology and clean water management fields.

GCC is the state’s first community college to offer the new SOAR Solar Technology Certificate Program, which prepares students for entry-level employment in the growing solar technology industry. More than half of solar employers nationally plan to increase their workforce in 2011, according to a report issued last fall by The Solar Foundation, a non-profit, non-lobbying organization that aims to increase solar energy use through educational outreach, policy research, and market transformation. Overall, a 26 percent increase in solar jobs is expected, the report says, based in part on investments made through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The second new program, the SOAR Clean Water Management Certificate Program, is ideal for students who are interested in science and the environment and are looking for a stable career with better-than-average employment opportunities. It is designed to help fill the need for Connecticut DEP-certified wastewater treatment plant operators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says job opportunities in this area are excellent because of anticipated above-average employment growth, coupled with a significant number of expected retirements and a lack of trained replacements. There are more than 100 public and private plants in Connecticut that require these kinds of positions.

With full-time attendance, students can complete either 30-credit certificate in one year and be ready for entry-level employment.

With these new programs, GCC now offers three certificate programs that are part of the Connecticut Community College System’s Sustainable Operations: Alternative and Renewable (SOAR) Energy Initiative, which was funded by a three-year, $2 million U.S. Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training Grant in 2009, said Carla Roehrich, SOAR regional coordinator at GCC. The first program, the SOAR Alternative Energy Transportation Technology Certificate Program, was launched in the fall of 2010.

All three programs are part of the college’s division of Engineering and Applied Technologies and their classroom and laboratory courses are largely offered on GCC’s North Haven campus at 88 Bassett Road. Some of the SOAR Clean Water Management courses are taught on-site at municipal wastewater treatment facilities throughout the state.

The SOAR Solar Technology Certificate prepares students for positions in companies that install and/or maintain solar technology systems or manufacture solar technology for both residential and commercial uses. Positions could include system design, solar sales or customer service/relations/support. “Students will learn to estimate costs, evaluate performance, and understand the overall effectiveness of various types of solar installation,” Roehrich said.

The SOAR Clean Water Management Certificate provides classroom and laboratory-based academic preparation for the Class I, II, III, and IV Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Examinations administered by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. “Students will learn about environmental regulations, operation of waste water treatment plants, industrial-waste treatment, pretreatment facility inspection, treatment of metal waste streams, the operation and maintenance of waste water collection systems and procedures and other related issues,” Roehrich said.

For more information about GCC’s new SOAR Solar Technology Certificate Program or its new SOAR Clean Water Management Certificate Program, contact Carla Roehrich at (203) 285-2324 or croehrich@gwcc.commnet.edu.


GCC offers more than 85 associate degree and certificate programs and serves more than 11,000 credit and non-credit students each year. GCC is currently located on two campuses — at 60 Sargent Drive on Long Wharf in New Haven and at 88 Bassett Road in North Haven. Work began in the fall of 2009 on a new state-of-the art campus in downtown New Haven, which is slated to open in 2012 and is designed to be the state’s first public building gold-certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

GCC serves students in 24 towns and cities in the greater New Haven area, including: Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Clinton, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Seymour, Shelton, Stratford, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge. For more information, visit www.gwcc.commnet.edu.