SAN JOSE, Calif. | SUNPOWER —
Approximately 300 students from 17 California school districts are participating in this summer’s SunPower® Solar Science Academy, a work-based learning program provided by SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR), a global solar technology and energy services company. In total, more than 600 students and 86 teachers have participated since the summer academy was launched in 2012.
The project- and activity-based learning program is delivered over the course of one week in each participating region, immersing high school students in a solar-focused curriculum that emphasizes the real-world application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Participating students and teachers work with industry professionals, and participate in learning laboratories and field trips to nearby solar system installations. The program concludes with student presentations to a panel of industry representatives, school board members, teachers and community leaders.
“As solar power plays an increasingly critical role in meeting global energy demand, students participating in the SunPower Solar Science Academy may be the engineers and business leaders charting our energy future,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “In the process of learning about solar technology and energy solutions, the students’ enthusiasm and ability to understand complex concepts is very inspiring. SunPower is proud of the increasing number of participants in the Solar Science Academy program we attract each year.”
This week, the program is underway in two locations. In Southern California, 65 students from Fontana, Rialto, Moreno Valley and San Bernardino City school districts are participating at the University of California, Riverside. In Northern California, 70 students from Oakland, San Ramon, Mount Diablo, Antioch, Bay Point and Pittsburg school districts are convening at California State University-East Bay in Concord. Other school districts participating in this summer’s program include Fairfield-Suisun and Benicia in the North Bay; Porterville and Cutler-Orosi in the Central Valley; Pajaro Valley on the Central Coast; and Santa Ana in Orange County. Several of these districts also participated in the program in previous years.
“We are excited about working with SunPower to offer this program to our students and staff,” said Tracey Vacker of Fontana Unified School District in San Bernardino County. “The SunPower Solar Science Academy brings relevant and real-life knowledge into the classroom, while preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. We’re grateful for the opportunity to support the development of our community’s young people with this curriculum during the summer months.”
The SunPower Solar Science Academy has served a diverse population of students. In 2014, the majority of participating students were Hispanic, and almost 40 percent were female.
“While the solar industry is a leading force in job creation in the U.S., the percentage of solar jobs held by women and minorities today are only about 20 percent and 30 percent respectively,” continued Wenger. “The SunPower Solar Science Academy is working to address that imbalance, encouraging a diversity of participants, and providing opportunity in traditionally underserved communities for young people to become the energy leaders of the future.”
According to 2014 data from The Solar Foundation, the number of solar industry jobs is increasing 20 times faster than growth of the overall U.S. economy. With about 174,000 solar jobs in the U.S. by the end of 2014, the solar sector is expected to increase approximately 21 percent this year.
SunPower is a leader in delivering energy solutions to California school districts. To date, the company has completed or is currently installing solar power systems at 274 schools totaling more than 98 megawatts which, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, is enough to power more than 16,000 average California homes.
The Solar Foundation estimates that more than 3,700 K-12 schools in the U.S. currently have solar power systems on site, serving nearly 2.7 million students across the nation and saving about $77.8 million in electricity costs annually.
SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) designs, manufactures and delivers the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar panels and systems available today. Residential, business, government and utility customers rely on SunPower’s 30 years of experience and guaranteed performance to provide maximum return on investment throughout the life of the solar system. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia.