If GRID ever needed a racing team, students from Perry Technical Institute would be the best pit crew around. Racking, microinverters and modules went up on the Sacramento-area roof in an organized and efficient manner while the future electricians of the group skillfully wired the 5.6 kilowatt solar electric system. Their second installation of the week may have come together in lightning speed, but efficiency and safety weren’t this team’s only notable characteristics.
The Perry Tech students were participating in GRID’s Solar Spring Break, an alternative break and service learning opportunity for college students. This particular team was unique because all of its members were veterans from different branches of the military. They are all currently studying at a trades school in Washington and connected with this opportunity through the Veterans Conservation Corps.
It’s not everyday that different parts of GRID’s work so perfectly intersect, but this all-veterans Solar Spring Break team forged a meaningful connection between our collegiate programming and Troops to Solar initiative, both supported by our longtime partner Wells Fargo.
Each of the team members specialized in different areas of expertise – some were soon-to-be electricians, others future HVAC and Information Technology technicians – but all of them were united by a curiosity about solar energy and a deep understanding of service.
Just like students on the 18 other Solar Spring Break teams that spent a week of service-learning with GRID, these 10 strangers had grown close to one another by the end of the week. Erupting with laughter while they worked, the team developed inside jokes and a humorous way of communicating that made it seem like they had known each other for years.
When asked how they could get the job done so efficiently and while simultaneously building special team bonds Kim replied, “that’s just what the veteran community does,” a sentiment that was met with head nods of agreement from former Marine Nick Freeburg and others around him who were harnessed and ready to climb onto the roof.
As each team member stared up with pride at the solar system that would soon be producing energy for an eager homeowner, Solar Spring Break imparted one more common piece of personal history for each of them: the opportunity to serve a community member in need and gain hands-on solar installation experience alongside one other.