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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

October 2012 Publisher Letter

Sep 28, 2012 04:44PM

It’s easy to point out what is wrong with our world, from catastrophic climate change and rampant pollution to overpopulation and the widespread abuse of natural resources. The beacons of hope include all those working to provide practical and achievable solutions to help build a sustainable future. Jacob Scherr, director of global strategy and advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, sums up the current situation: “We don’t need another plan of action or more treaties; what we need are people that will begin to implement the commitments and meet the goals that have already been created and established.”

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Joseph Jacobsen, associate dean and director of the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), Oak Creek Campus. He has helped establish a pioneering training curriculum that provides certification in an array of energy engineering practices and technologies, including the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, energy auditing, electric utility micro-grids and renewable energies, such as photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal and wind.

The college’s onsite high-tech training labs range from geothermal, solar thermal and wind turbine systems, plus the state’s largest photovoltaic field, to basic boilers, pumps, compressors and other equipment—all designed to give students hands-on experience. This extraordinary confluence, the largest in the country, is garnering national and worldwide attention as educators from around the globe visit Milwaukee and return home to adopt this innovative and practical curriculum into their local training programs. One recent visitor was Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, Ambassador from the United Republic of Tanzania. Read more about the ECAM program in Linda Sechrist’s article.

The United Nations maintains that sustainable development by definition includes fighting poverty, social inclusion (including advancing the status of women) and protecting the environment. Every one of these key areas is being addressed in the ECAM programs. Jacobsen is passionate, for example, about preventing high school kids from dropping out. (Last year Milwaukee Public Schools saw a 50-percent dropout rate.) By effecting real-world training in sustainable careers geared to produce earnings sufficient to support a family, MATC is building a working bridge for students from high school to college to rewarding employment. According to Jacobsen, “There is no greater socialization than a meaningful job.”

America’s future depends on our country’s successful transition to a new economy supported by renewable energies and planet-friendly technologies. How lucky we are to live in a community that is preparing the educated, experienced and capably trained people that our country needs to do this work and to be competitive in the global market.

To a sustainable future here and everywhere,

Gabi Buchnik

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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