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Solar Panels Unveiled atop Region Tech School

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Despite a windy day, the ribbon has been cut on the rooftop of Porter County Career and Technical Center completing the latest phase of a student built solar panel collection project.
Along with top management from NIPSCO, including the utility company's president, Kathleen O'Leary, their were faculty members, current and former students at Tuesday's ceremony.  Valparaiso Councilwoman, Jan Dick represented the Valparaiso Redevelopment Corp., which according to the school's principal and director, John Groth says provided a lot of the funding for installing the solar panels on the tech center's roof. 
Principal Groth told those in attendance that the solar panel project began simply about two years ago, when the Dave Kenning's Electronics and Computer Technology class wondered what just two solar panels could power.  Groth says it turned out to be a "couple of bulbs in a display case  that demonstrated alternative energy.  The principal says additional panels were added and the class school found it could power more bulbs, specifically the 36 solar collector panels that Groth says powered every other overhead light fixture down a school hallway.  It was revealed at yesterday's ceremony that the current solar array could supply 7.7 Kilowatt Hours of electricity or, enough current to supply two homes.
NIPSCO's O'Leary took the opportunity when it was her turn at the podium to praise Groth's work and vision in working with alternative energy.  She also thanked the faculty and students involved in the solar panel project.  Plus, NIPSCO's top executive unveiled a surprise of her own by announcing a new Green Energy program where customers can choose to have a portion or, all of their electricity supplied by alternative energy sources.  She told the crowd that details of the new program would be coming soon.
Kenning says the solar project helps students to "use knowledge and skills learned in the classroom and apply them to real life stories."  A sentiment also echoed by former student, 20-year-old Kyle Hartwig who says he is a recent graduate of the school's Automotive Technology program.  Hartwig adds that tech schools excel over regular schools because they are staffed by teachers with real world experience.  The self-proclaimed "gear head" says his tech center experience led to enrolling at Ivy Tech where Hartwig will be graduating from this year ands says he will going into Energy Technology Transmission Distribution. 
solar cell panels      John Groth
Part of the completed 36 solar collector panels project completed by students.            John Groth, principal and director of Porter County Career and Technical Center.
Dave Kenning       Kathlene OLeary
Dave Kenning, Teacher of Electronics and Computer Technology class who built project.    NIPSCO president, Kathleen O'Leary thanks the staff, faculty and the students Tuesday.
Ribbon is cut       John Groth addresses crowd
The ribbon is cut atop the roof of Porter County Career and Technical Center.                   Principal Groth explains the array to the audience who braved the brisk winds Tuesday.
wind generator       Kyle Hartwig
Electricty created by the school's wind generator is added to the solar array output.       Tech Center graduate, Kyle Hartwig attended Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
(photos courtesy of jstevens)
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