First community college to win energy award inspires stories of second chances

By Tara Kadioglu Correspondent October 21, 2014 9:20PM, SouthTown Star

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council named Kankakee Community College its 2014 Accredited Clean Energy Training Provider of the Year, making the institution the first community college in the country to win this award, said the council’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Sherwood.

The college won for its renewable-energy training program, helmed and created in 2007 by veteran professor Tim Wilhelm, named the council’s Clean Energy Trainer of the Year last year:
“The biggest value of this is the credibility it gives our students,” he said. “A student can say on their resume, ‘Hey, guess what? I didn’t just study at such and such community college—I got my degree from a program selected as the clean energy training program of the year. That adds credibility to the student when they go out and look for a job.”
The program recently gained other positive attention. President Barack Obama commended the program in his “Solar Progress Report” in May. Also, Wilhelm said the program recently earned a $5 million state grant to build a dedicated facility by 2016.