NEOSHO, Mo. — Sunny skies and breezy conditions made Thursday an ideal day for alternative energy students at Crowder College to display wind and solar projects they’ve been working on throughout the semester.

About a dozen students gathered at the quad on the Neosho campus to showcase their work, including wind turbines, solar water heaters, a solar cooker and solar oven, to high school students and the community.

Melissa Oates, MARET Center director, said that it was important for people to see that students in the MARET program can turn class concepts into real-life working models.

Students worked in groups to complete their projects, with some taking a couple of days and others a couple of weeks.

Kyle Silvester, 34, of Anderson, worked on a residential wind turbine powered by a generator producing 1,000 watts of energy. The wind turbine took about a day and a half to assemble.

Silvester, a first-year student in the MARET program, said he has acquired many hands-on skills that he hopes to apply at a company that works with industrial wind turbines.

“This is a young and growing field that’s in high demand in the U.S., but people don’t realize that you can make a lot of money (in the industry), Silvester said.

Evandro Conceicao, 28, worked to assemble materials for a solar water heater. The idea is to trap heat behind a clear glazing like glass or plastic to keep the warmth from escaping, creating a greenhouse effect.

The solar water heater, which took two to three weeks to complete, is made out of aluminum flashing, plastic, rubber and insulated aluminum pipes built on top of a wooden structure.

Originally from Brazil, Conceicao said the solar and wind industries are transforming the way people live in the U.S. and that he would like to implement them in his home country. He said that demand for wind and solar energy is not yet as high in Brazil, but he thinks it will be in a few years.

Chris Catron, wind energy instructor for the program, said the purpose of the program is not only to train students but also to educate the community about the importance of shifting from fossil fuel consumption to alternative energy power sources, such as wind and solar energy.

“We want people to know that it’s more than just our program, but we’re trying to get our community to understand that there is a lot you can do with very cheap items like the solar oven and the solar cooker,” Catron said. “We want to reduce the amount of carbon we’re putting into the atmosphere; that’s what it’s all about.”

About 25 students are enrolled in the solar and wind energy programs, with two instructors teaching and training them. After the two-year program, students can choose to either transfer their credits to a university or go straight into the workforce and become either a wind turbine technician or a solar photovoltaic installer.

Home tour

The MARET program is offering a tour to the Kent and Holly Farnsworth home, which is a sustainable house. It is designed to maximize passive solar energy use. The house was built with insulated concrete forms, high-efficiency windows and enough solar panels to provide sufficient energy for eight months of the year.

The tour will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the residence, 16635 Hickory Drive in Neosho. The tour will cost $25, and those interested in attending it should email MARET@Crowder.edu or call 417-455-5422.

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