Posts Tagged ‘semiconductor industry’

As a student at Austin Community College, I have witnessed the school adopt many environmental programs and truly set a great example to its student as to how be good stewards of our environment.

The college has been recently featured in the Times magazine to recognize its new Renewable Energy Program,

When Austin’s semiconductor industry started tanking in 2000, ACC quickly stripped down its chip-development courses and soon repurposed clean rooms for emerging green technologies. These days, it generally takes about six months of weekend classes to get qualified to be a solar installer, a job that can pay up to $16 an hour. But starting in August, a compressed weekday program — catering to the recently unemployed — will allow students to cram the same courses into just two months.” – Times Magazine

The college also just celebrated the opening of its first green building. The parking garage of the Rio Grande campus was recently opened to provide five hundred more parking spots for student, staff, and faculty. The building has received a 3-star green building rating from Austin Energy recognizing the building’s design, construction, and operation. The school also provides parking spots for energy-efficient cars. If you are a student who drives one of these cars, you get to park closer to your class.

ACC also encourages its students to recycle. I have yet to be in an ACC facility that didn’t have a blue recycling bin or many of them. I see most students and staff recycle.

At the beginning of the Spring semester of 2010, the college will supplement its commitment to cutting emissions by handing out bus passes to every student, faculty, and staff member. The pilot of the ACC Green Pass program will begin on January 5th, 2010.

The libraries at the college also encourage students to print PowerPoint documents in handout format, save documents on external devices such as jump drives, and to preview before printing in order to avoid wasting paper and ink.

ACC sets a great example for many other institutions in Texas and across the United States to adopt such sustainability programs that will have a positive impact on our environment.

To learn more about the ACC Sustainability initiatives, visit the Sustainable ACC website.

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Remember last week, when solar power was ALL OVER THE NEWS?  Check out this video of News 8 Austin’s news story from Monday (and look for Smitty, our director, proclaiming that “Now is the time to Wildcat the Sun!”):


Also, check out KXAN’s news coverage.  The KXAN slant on the story was pretty interesting: they focused on how jobs lost in the semiconductor industry could be replaced by new solar manufacturing jobs.


circuitAustin has long been a hub of the semiconductor industry because a generation ago, state legislators passed a package of incentives to lure silicon chip manufacturers to Texas.  This created a high tech boom that has enriched Texans for over 20 years.  But now thousands of those jobs are disappearing.  The technologies involved to manufacture semiconductor chips and solar installations are very close, and business leaders believe that the semiconductor industry can actually be repurposed to produce solar.  At the very least, the skill sets involved in one translate seamlessly into the other, so that individuals who lost semiconductor jobs are the perfect candidates for new solar jobs.

And in the Austin-American Statesman today, it turns out there really is credence to what we’ve been saying!  It never hurts to have backup.  A new solar energy start-up is moving to Austin, precisely because we’ve got all the ideal ingredients to be a solar power hub.

Said SmartSpark chief executive Ron Van Dell (former leader of semiconductor design company Legerity Inc. and chief executive of Primarion Corp., a mixed-signal semiconductor company),

[In Austin] You’ve got an excellent talent pool, a growing base of renewable energy companies and a local ecosystem that’s very supportive of high-tech startups.

…The skills mix in power electronics is very, very good in Austin, whether they’re technical people or marketing people.

…Clean energy is a sector that dovetails with the semiconductor industry, and we’ve got a lot of talented people with skills that are so well-suited for the next generation of technology innovation.

Public Citizen’s bet is that if the Texas Legislature can pass the right policies this session, we can attract even more solar manufacturing and installation companies like SmartSpark.  We don’t want to make the same mistake we did with wind, where we created a huge renewable energy boom and created thousands of installation jobs (yay!), but moved too slowly and cautiously to attract the big manufacturing companies (boo).  For more information on some of the solar legislation introduced this session, check out last week’s post “Could this be Texas’ Solar Session?”

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