A Kankakee Community College professor has been honored for his leadership in advancing renewable energy.
Clay Sterling, who teaches electrical engineering technology courses related to renewable energy at KCC, was recognized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Avenue of Advocates. The Avenue of Advocates recognizes people or organizations who have shown great leadership in advancing renewable energy and sustainable living.
“Clay has committed his professional career to teaching people the basics of solar electric systems,” said Nick Hylla, executive director of the MREA. “This commitment has led to thousands of people installing solar and starting their solar energy careers. His dedication to advancing renewable energy education makes him well deserving of the Avenue of Advocates designation.”
At a ceremony for the honorees in June, a dedication to Sterling was made by Tehri Parker, executive director of a nonprofit that works to protect, connect, and restore wildlife and wild lands.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving to be added to the Avenue of Advocates,” Parker said. “You have taught thousands of students about renewable energy, you have inspired others to lead greener, cleaner lives, and you have made the world a better place just by being you,” she said. “At MREA, you took the basic concept of offering workshops and turned it into a thriving educational center. And now … at Kankakee Community College, you are teaching the next generation of renewable energy installers and advocates to carry on the work long after the day comes when you have to get off the roof.”
In addition to teaching at KCC for three years, Sterling has a long career teaching and working in renewable energy, and is certified by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council Institute for Sustainable Power Quality as a clean energy trainer for both solar photovoltaics and small wind energy.
Sterling also taught for MREA for 20 years before joining KCC’s staff in August 2016. He previous earned awards as 2013 Interstate Renewable Energy Council 3i Clean Energy Trainer of the Year, and 2009 Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program Non-Formal Educator of the Year.
The program Sterling teaches in at KCC, Electrical Engineering Technology, offers an associate degree with a renewable energy technology specialization. The college also has short-term certificates in Small-Wind Technology, Solar PV Technology and Solar-Thermal Technology. Each of these short-term certificates is 21 credit hours and can be finished in one year or less.