The rise of wind tech careers (Promoted by AT&T)

Driving through the rural landscape of South Texas, wind turbines dot the topography like stoic guardians of the open expanses. Perhaps there is no more powerful metaphor for progress — and for the future — than these majestic structures.

Beto Gonzalez, the superintendent of Webb Consolidated Independent School District, calls the turbines “towers of hope.” Beginning this fall, Webb CISD will roll out a program — the first in the country at the high-school level — that teaches kids the hands-on skills they’ll need to become wind turbine technicians in the green economy.

It was a natural fit, explains Gonzalez, that just as AT&T was investing in a wind energy center in South Texas, the school district would hone in on efforts to prepare kids for jobs in the renewable energy sector. “We [wanted] to create a college-level curriculum for our high schoolers to give them hope for gainful employment in purposeful, technical careers,” says Gonzalez.

The new Webb CISD track aligns closely with existing programs at Texas State Technical College (TSTC), which offers associate degrees and certificates for students pursuing jobs in wind tech. The programs are bolstered in part by partnerships with AT&T and its development partner, NextEra Energy Resources. The two companies have invested heavily in clean energy — and wind in particular — in Texas and around the US.

For AT&T, investing in renewable energy is about more than just delivering clean power; it’s also about investing in students and the communities where its wind projects are located.

Recently, the company launched the AT&T Wind Energy Scholarship fund with a $50,000 contribution to TSTC. The fund, which is part of AT&T’s broader commitments to education and the environment, provides financial assistance for local students to pursue careers in wind tech and renewable energy.

“We wanted our scholarships to be for students from counties where the AT&T-backed projects are located, making the connection with the community that much stronger,” says Nicole Anderson, president of the AT&T Foundation. “Our renewable energy program is also a key part of our 10X carbon reduction goal, which is to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025. And our wind investments are one way we are working to achieve this goal.”