With a 72-ton nacelle looming in the background, a host of dignitaries dedicated the Iowa Lakes Community College Sustainable Energy Resources & Technologies (S.E.R.T.) building Thursday.
The building, itself a world-class model of ecological construction and sustainable energy, will host a number of new college programs geared toward 21st century energy solutions. The building will house the electrical technology, water quality and HVAC programs and also serve as a center for training wind energy and turbine technology students in addition to industrial training. WindTest, a German-based company, will test prototype turbines built by manufacturers from all around the world - all within 25 miles of Estherville.
Iowa Lakes Estherville campus dean Scott Stokes opened Thursday's ceremonies, introducing college president valerie Newhouse who offered special recognition to former Sen. Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg, author of the bill to establish Iowa's community college system, as well as a host of other dignitaries.
A ribbon-cutting was held for the Iowa Lakes Community College Sustainable Energy Resources & Technologies Program on Thursday.
Photo by Michael Tidemann
Newhouse also offered special recognition fo Delaine Hiney, college facilities management executive director.
"Dee and her staff have worked tirelessly to get this facility ready for us today," said Newhouse, adding that by using the existing facility the college was able to reduce environmental impact.
"What a great day this is," said board of trustees president Jan Lund, thanking her fellow trustees for their support of the facility. She also recognized former trustees Mike Prior and George Shadle.
"I don't know that any project has been looked forward to with any more anticipation and enthusiasm," said Lund. "Iowa Lakes has every reason to be proud of all its facilities."
Gary Phillips, professor and coordinator of the environmental studies program and water quality and sustainable aquatic resources, said "we make things happen" at the college.
"With change comes the opportunity to move forward," said Phillips, adding that the S.E.R.T. building is "envisioned to meet the changes that are taking place in the world around us."
"This really is one of a few facilities like in the world," said Dan Lutat, director of wind energy and turbine technology and sustainable energy resources. "Thank you just doesn't begin to say how we feel about having this facility."
Lutat turned emotional as he recognized students on the mezzanine observing the event. "The students are the reason we're here," Lutat said.
Lutat recognized industry partners, including Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Vestas, Edison Mission, Iberdrola and WindTest. He also recognized staff.
Student speaker Ryan Steinkamp said his passion for wind energy started when he was in eighth grade and that his ultimate goal is to become an electrical engineer.
"I will bring product knowledge of what works and what doesn't to my engineering studies," Steinkamp said. Steinkamp has already been hired by WindTest.
Dr. Brad Buck, director of the Iowa Department of Education, said of Iowa's community colleges, "There's always this vibrancy around."
Jolene Rogers, executive director of community and business relations, introduced Earl Bailey, education consultant for Snap-on, a major college partner, who spoke of company values of "non-negotiable product and workplace safety, passionate customer care, the belief of fearless innovation and rapid continuous improvement."
"Thank you very much for this great opportunity," said Monika Kramer, managing director of WindTest North American, Inc., which is locating in the S.E.R.T. facility.
Dr. David Nixon, former college president, reminded everyone of the upcoming Sept. 9 special election to renew the technology levy.
"It has fueled the fires of innovation at Iowa Lakes Community College," said Nixon. "You can't help but feel the human energy."