AUSTIN (KXAN) - It's a fast-growing industry in Texas that's picking up alot ofinterest along the way: renewable energy.
More homeowners are installing solar panels on their rooftopswanting to soak in sunlight and put it to good use. More ordinarypeople are taking classes, becoming self-made solar energyexperts.
"This is coming," said one such student, Jessica Knight. "Thisis the next big industry that I really want to be involved in, andI think Austin is prime for it."
"The solar energy industry is kind of like the computer industry30- to 40 years ago," said solar instructor Cathy Redson. "In thebeginning, a lot of the jobs were programmers and systemprogrammers. Now, that's very few of the jobs in computer; samething in solar. As the industry gets started, a lot of the jobshave been on installers, but now as the industry is maturing, theindustry has created jobs in a variety of categories."
With more opportunities in sales, marketing, public relations,design and project management, Redson said the market is wide openfor women to go after those jobs.
"I'm not even taking this class because I necessarily want toinstall things," said Knight. "I think that's a wonderful sideeffect, but I do communications work and marketing work, projectmanagement. Understanding this from the ground up is actually goingto be a boon to me."
The class is also booming, with 15 women enrolled this summer.And instructors said they hope the numbers keep climbing.
"This class is groundbreaking," said Knight. "I think womengetting involved in this as intricately as possible is a boom tothe industry."
As part of the class session, the women, along with a few malestudents, spend two Saturdays in a lab. They design and learn howto install their own solar power system.
"They've learned how solar makes electricity from the sunlight,how that uses different environmental conditions to maximize thatpower production, how you access the potential of solar at a site,how you then design a system," said Redson.
Watching the women install their own system is almost a reminderof Rosie the Riveter, the World War II icon whoseimage of rolled up sleeves and gritty hands stood as a symbol ofpower and liberation.
In ACC's Women In Solar lab class, women handle heavy powerdrills, screwdrivers and other tools as though they'refeatherweight. They wire junction boxes, drill holes and weavewiring in and out of life-size solar panels.
"Having actually gone through the actual exercise of workingwith the tools and installing the system yourself gives you thatknowledge and first-hand skills and hands-on experience to be ableto do those jobs and do them better," Redson said.
That is the exact purpose and initiative of the class. Knightsaid women will offer stiff competition in this up-and-coming greenindustry because of their unique abilities.
"All the good traits of women can be utilized here - and all thethings that us moms bring from home and everything else," Knightsaid. " We've got plenty of stuff to offer that will benefit theindustry."
ACC will offer the Women in Solar class again in August. Click here for more information.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.