CLINT PORTER was studying photography when he stumbled across a book about the coming hydrogen economy that changed his life. “I wanted to build things and create, which is why I liked art and photography. But then I thought about hydrogen, biofuels, solar and wind, and figured that since people will always be using electricity, I’d always have a job.”
He found that no CUNY program offered a course to a bachelor’s degree. That led him to the CUNY Graduate Center’s Baccalaureate Degree Program, which let him stitch together courses in physics, calculus, environmental policy and environmental chemistry from Baruch, City and Hunter Colleges. At the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems, he conducted an energy audit on the federal Million Solar Roofs program. He added three independent study courses and two internships, including one at the Solar Electric Power Association in Washington, D.C.
Porter finished his solar-related coursework two years ago, disposed of lingering English and American literature courses via CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) exams after moving to San Francisco to work in the solar industry, and will receive his BA in Energy Resource Policy in Latin America in January 2008—the first CUNY undergraduate to earn a diploma in renewable energy. He now handles sales, government affairs and marketing for Kaco Solar Inc. USA, part of an international company that manufactures photovoltaic inverters, which turn the direct current generated by solar cells into the alternating current needed for most power uses.
“This was an awesome way to study—to have the freedom to educate yourself when a program is not in place to give you what you need,” he said.”I’m 27 and have more experience and knowledge of the industry than people twice my age, most of it because of the CUNY Baccalaureate Program.”