Solar camp attracts future installers, not bears

July 2022

Twelve recent graduates are the first to complete Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s flagship Solar Camp!

Since completing the new program, the students recently received their Solar Photovoltaic Technician Certification in addition to their electrician degrees. The project was created in order to offer the solar curriculum to electricians in a hands-on, intensive experience.

Using a traditional camp structure, the project aims to help maximize the value, time, and delivery for students already enrolled in Minnesota State’s electrician programs. 


In May, campers arrived in Canby, Minnesota, excited for three weeks of sleeping in residence halls, shared meals in the cafeteria, and a full agenda. In total, campers spent 128 hours building and exploring the unique challenges and opportunities of becoming a solar installer, the code and regulations behind the generation method, and physically constructing, deconstructing, and operating four different solar mount systems.

Recent graduate, Christine, says she was drawn to the program thanks to its accessibility and affordability. 

“The deciding factor was the price, not going to lie. It was an education that I could get. It would only be three weeks, it would be free and it’s in a field that’s rapidly expanding that I know is only going to get bigger. It’s knowledge that I know is going to be useful to me in the future.”

“What excites me most about solar? It’s almost like magic because there’s no moving parts in these arrays, they literally just sit there and generate power. If the sun is going to rise tomorrow, you’re going to get power.”

Christine, recent graduate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow 52 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average occupation. At that rate, the field can expect about 2,300 openings per year. 

“With that information, this program couldn’t have come at a better time.” says Rose Patzer, Executive Director of the Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence. “Pairing the solar photovoltaic installer certificate with our 2-year electrician AAS degree was an act of genius, and offering the program outside of the parameters of a traditional semester schedule made it even better!”

To learn more about this flagship program, check out the full story from the Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence.

Sign up for our email newsletter

We encourage reuse and republishing of this story. All Clean Energy Resource Teams stories are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning you can share and adapt the work as long as you give us credit. We'd also love it if you link back to the original piece. Have questions or want to chat? Drop us a line.