Meet our Solar Works DC Trainees!


November 02, 2017

“I just really love to learn,” said Tarik Mickel, when asked about his hectic schedule and commitment to study solar. Even after a full day of working on the roof or attending workshops through our Solar Works DC job training program, he still has the energy to play hide-and-go-seek with his young kids and crack open his solar photovoltaic text books late into the evening.

Tarik used to work at the Smithsonian Zoo as a groundskeeper and driver, but he wanted a career change. That’s when he discovered the Solar Works DC job training program, and he’s been training with GRID ever since. GRID Mid-Atlantic is implementing DOEE’s and DOES’s Solar Works DC job training program, currently training 23 District residents in installation, career readiness, and solar industry skills.  


MA Tarik  works in the roof
Tarik, a former Smithonian Zoo groundskeeper, is job training with GRID to start a new solar career
The current trainee group is our most diverse yet, with participants hailing from all over the world with a variety of career backgrounds. On one of our install days, you can find on site a former tattoo artist, sound technician, nurse, custodian, cashier, taxi operator, and an environmental engineer, wiring an electrical box or hoisting a solar panel up on the roof.  They come from West Africa, Moracco, Saudi Arabia, Cameron, Mexico City, Iraq, and the U.S. with one thing in common – a shared desire to learn solar and make the District a more sustainable place. 

 “I feel like at my age, I wouldn’t normally get this chance to be part of the future,” said Huda. Originally from Iraq, she is an electrical engineer who came here three years ago by way of Egypt. After the program, she wants to continue with installation and eventually move into system design. 

The trainees are half-way through their 12-week program, with six solar installations under their belts. The hands-on training provides a unique experience for learning about the solar industry. “One of the biggest benefits to me is getting the real insight into how everything works,” said Ayaz. Ayaz had volunteered with GRID before and decided to take his training to a whole new level with Solar Works DC. “We’re not just people doing grunt work, we know how the mechanics behind a lot of this works.” 

MA Huda job trainee
Huda, originally from Iraq, is one of our 23 diverse trainees
This unique introduction to the solar industry has presented new career paths for many. Regardless of what direction these trainees decide to go in solar (and there are many options!), their time with Solar Works DC is providing them with the skills they need to get a job in solar. 

“I can’t wait to do this full-time,” said Tarik.  Soon, his dedicated nighttime study routine will turn into a lifetime career.

Meet our Solar Works DC trainees at our Winter Solar-Bration on December 1st!