State Energy Expert Launches Energy Services and Technology Program

Just four short years ago, Wes Golomb was hired by Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, New Hampshire to launch a new associate degree program in energy services and technology. Now that program has been named sole recipient of the 2010 New Hampshire State Merit Award for excellence by the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE).

"It's beyond my wildest dreams. It's very exciting," said Wes, who as coordinator of the program accepted the award on March 5, 2010 at the NEBHE awards dinner in Boston.

With the program's first students graduating this year, Wes says that employers are calling for interns. "We're looking to be an energy education center for the state, and our ultimate goal is to be an onsite demonstration center."

A One-of-a-Kind Program

One of the first of its kind in the nation, the program prepares students for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Wes teaches classes in energy management, renewable energy, spreadsheets and blueprint readings, and building materials. Photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal (hot water) installation and additional energy services courses are taught by other professors. Besides the degree program, the initiative also trains one hundred and twenty-five individuals as certified energy auditors throughout the state.

"We're the second program in the country to focus on energy," he said. "It's unusual for a program to focus on efficiency; that's what makes us stand out."

Wes, 58, grew up in Ardsley, New York, a small village in Westchester County. In 1974, he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Four years later, to further his goals, he applied to, and was accepted into AUNE's master's in science teaching (MST) program.

"AUNE was definitely the best educational experience I ever had," he said. "It influences my teaching to this day."

From Energy Audits to Passive Solar

He graduated from AUNE in 1980, then worked with an energy conservation company. He was the second person in New Hampshire to be certified as an energy auditor, and briefly operated his own passive-solar room business. For more than a decade, he taught high school science in New England, as well as an energy and environment class at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

In 1999, he was hired by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to administer the state's energy codes. "For me, it was the perfect job," he said. "I had a boss who let me be proactive. I accomplished a lot. I spent time with home builders, teaching about energy efficiency. It just really worked."

For years, Wes had a dream to teach at the college level. So, in 2006, when he heard about the opening for his current position at Lakes Region Community College, he immediately applied for the job. With Wes as coordinator, the program, which is now in its fourth year, has steadily attracted more and more students. 2010 enrollment increased by 50 percent over last year.

"It's excellent and I am so lucky," he said. "I know so many people that can't wait to retire. I get up in the morning, and I'm excited about my work every single day."

Achieving a Dream

His passion for energy conservation extends beyond the classroom. Wes, who lives with his wife and family in Deerfield, New Hampshire, is a longtime member of the Deerfield Conservation Commission. He also serves on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association and the New Hampshire Energy Efficiency/Sustainable Energy Board, which was founded just last year.

"The state is now in the top four percent in the country in terms of Energy Star homes being built," he said. "I'm proud of what we're doing. New Hampshire is a model for other states. We're doing some very progressive things."

Committed to his life's work, Wes welcomes the NEBHE award that puts the spotlight on the Lakes Region Community College program "I'm thrilled that people are paying attention, not to me, but to the program. It's important that society pays attention to how we use energy."

"I'm saying the same things that I said thirty years ago, but now I'm seen as an energy expert." he said. "If you told me years ago when I left AUNE that things would have worked out this way, I'd never have believed you."