Green Technology and Sustainability: It’s All About the Future at County Vocational-Technical Schools

October 23rd, 2013

It began with Essex County’s Bloomfield Tech, which graduated the first class from its Green Energy Academy in 2012.  That program became the model for the collaborative development of a Green Program of Study that could be customized and implemented by county vocational-technical schools and other districts throughout the state.

With support from the NJ Department of Education, and partners from industry and higher education, county vocational schools in Bergen, Camden, Cape May, Hunterdon and Passaic counties launched programs as pilot school districts in 2010.  Middlesex joined the group in 2011, and Bergenfield launched a program run by Bergen Tech in 2012. Willingboro is also a pilot district.

Each participating district is using Green Program of Study resources to upgrade and expand their CTE offerings in a way that responds to regional industry needs and student interest.

The impetus for Middlesex’s new green technology and sustainability curriculum came from the teaching staff, said Middlesex County Vocational-Technical Schools superintendent Brian Loughlin.

“A number of our teachers came to us directly from the business world, and they told us that almost all industries have to deal with conservation and sustainability issues on a daily basis,” Loughlin said.  “They made it clear that if we want our students to be qualified for good jobs when they graduate, they must be trained today in the current industry standards with regard to these matters.”

The Middlesex program, located at the school’s East Brunswick Campus, involves 75 students in three fields with “green” connections:  architectural drafting and design, building trades and HVAC.  “Each program has its own course of study that had to be enhanced and revised as we added the sustainability science component,” Loughlin said.

The district is about to open its “green lab,” which will be a shared space for all three programs.  In addition, there are plans to use part of the campus property to establish a “green” construction site for student projects that will apply their skills and knowledge.  The district plans to erect solar panels and a wind turbine that will offer students practical experience and also reduce energy costs for the district.

The Department of Education is encouraging more districts to adopt the NJ Green Program of Study model, and the curriculum and resources will be offered on a statewide basis for the 2014-15 school year.

To learn more about the program, participating colleges and universities, industry partners, and curriculum resources, visit NJ Green Program of Study.

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