(See section on “Articles of Interest” for links to resources on Green Tech/Sustainability)
Alternative Fuels Students and Faculty
Build Bread Baking Oven
by Ed Ristad
Students and faculty from SRJC's Alternative Fuels Program are in the process of converting a 1977 Mercedes diesel engine into a functional oven that runs on vegetable oil. The engine is nicknamed the “Appetizer Engine” because not only can it baked bread, pizza, and other baked goods, but the olive oil used to run the engine can also be used as a dip for the baked products.
The engine was designed by Alternative Fuels students and faculty to give SRJC students and the community a colorful, fun, and tactile example of sustainable, recyclable energy. The heat is generated by the running engine, which is directed to a giant insulated mailbox welded to the engine block. Inside the mailbox are bricks that line the bottom for insulation and a pizza stone. The oven can reach an internal temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The engine has presented several learning challenges for the students, most of which have been solved. The engine should be finished and camera ready by February.
SRJC currently offers alternative fuels courses and is developing an Alternative Fuels Certificate program. Alternative fuel vehicles are one of the fastest growing segments of the automotive industry. Alternative Fuel Vehicle refers to a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than traditional petroleum fuels (petrol or diesel); any method of powering an engine that does not involve solely petroleum (e.g., electric car, petrol-electric hybrid, solar powered).
Demand For Water Resources Technology Professionals In North Bay & Beyond
by Debra Sands Miller
Rarely do we stop to think about turning on our tap, taking a drink from a water fountain, or washing our hands, and yet the availability of water is at the heart of our social and economic stability. Maintaining our region's water system depends heavily on an adequate and prepared workforce. Local water and wastewater utilities are keenly aware of this issue and are aggressively strategizing to address the current and future workforce shortages. In 2009, the San Francisco Bay and Greater Silicon Valley Centers of Excellence (COE) partnered with BAYWORK (the Bay Area Water/Wastewater Workforce Development Collaborative) to survey water and wastewater agencies and utilities in six Bay Area counties. The research study was designed to identify the workforce needs of employers related to seven mission critical occupations:
• Water Treatment Operator
• Water Distribution Operator
• Wastewater Treatment Operator
• Wastewater Collections Operator
• Electrician/Electrician Technician
• Electronic Maintenance Technician/Instrument Technician
These occupations were selected for study by BAYWORK because (1) their work is essential to reliable water and wastewater operations, and (2) there were concerns about whether sufficient numbers of qualified candidates would be available to fill upcoming vacancies. The segment of the workforce being studied in detail in this report is primarily the technician level/mid-level occupations most closely aligned with community college education programs, as opposed to professional level occupations. Data about the demand for skilled workers in this industry was needed to inform community colleges.
Based on survey results, employers in the counties studied are projected to need as many as 677 new and replacement workers seven mission critical occupations over the next five years. Statewide, 35 percent of water utility workers are eligible to retire in the next 10 years and in some cities; that statistic jumps to 50 percent. These statistics explain the urgency felt in the industry. A safe and sustainable water distribution and treatment system requires a trained and competent workforce to run water/wastewater systems. As one of only two community colleges that offers water resources technology programs in the 26 college Bay Region, SRJCs is poised to provide excellent education and training to serve the region’s growing workforce needs. Faced with this industry need, SRJC collaborated with Napa Valley College to submit a Chancellor’s Office grant to enhance our water utility and water treatment programs. As part of this grant, SRJC’s water programs will partner with the Environmental Protection Agency and its Region 9 Sustainable Water Infrastructure and Climate Change Initiative to explore curriculum related to why energy efficiency is important and how it contributes to water conservation. (Did you know that 20‰ of California’s electricity is used to bring water to consumers and to water treatment facilities—distribution? This does not include the energy required for water treatment.)
To access the full Bay Region Water and Wastewater Occupations report online, go to http://www.coeccc.net/Environmental_Scans/water_scan_bay_09.pdf