Starting the Engines of Tomorrow: Biodiesel Programs at Community College

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Starting the Engines of Tomorrow: Biodiesel Programs at Community College
Start your engines…powered by biodiesel! Learn more about biodiesel programs at community college and how these could jumpstart a lucrative green career for you.
As our country looks to more green energy solutions, biodiesel production has come to the forefront of higher education today. Community colleges are hopping onboard the biodiesel bandwagon, offering a variety of programs to teach students how to create, test and market biodiesel fuel to a wide range of industries today.

If you are looking for a green career that will offer stable work opportunities and help the environment at the same time, perhaps a career in biodiesel technology is for you.

What is a Biodiesel Fuel Specialist?
According to Green Careers Guide, a biodiesel fuel specialist is involved with the conversion of renewable oilseed crops into fuel that can be used to power engines and machinery. The creation of biodiesels creates a cleaner environment and will alleviate our dependency on foreign oil in the future. Biodiesel technicians work in a variety of settings, but often spend much of their time in a laboratory.
To become a biodiesel fuel specialist, it is good to have the following qualities or skills:
  • An aptitude for mathematics and science
  • Excellent communication skills
  • The ability to work as a member of the team
  • Meticulous record keeping skills

Green Careers Guide estimates that the outlook for biodiesel careers is good, with an average hourly rate of around $15-$20.

Where to Find Training

Biodiesel training programs are cropping up around the country, and we have a few examples to get you started in your research:
This Minnesota school recently received a state grant to train up approximately 44 participants in biodiesel technology, according to a report at The 12-month program will include certification and possible employment with two of the state's bio-diesel businesses: SarTec Corp., an agricultural products producer, and Ever Cat Fuels, a plant that is implementing biodiesel technology. Training will be diverse and include online courses, instructor-led classroom activities and hands-on training.
CCCC has been a leader in biofuels education since 2002, according to the college website. This school offers workshops, classes and curriculum programs that are appropriate both for students and members of the community. Two years ago, CCCC began offering a two-year associate's degree in Alternative Energy Technology: Biofuels. The college gets support from the North Carolina Biofuels Center and is currently constructing a pilot scale plant that will be able to produce biofuels from various feedstocks.

Sinclair Community College

This Dayton, Ohio, school provides a real hands-on experience with biodiesel fuel, since it makes much of the fuel that it uses to power campus machinery and vehicles. The fuel is created by students, using used cooking oil from the dining hall, according to a report at MSNBC. Making their own fuel does more than create a greener campus; it also saves the school some money. Students creating the fuel are getting first-hand training in the chemistry and engineering that is required in the biodiesel industry.

Central Community College

Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, really has something to brag about on the biodiesel front, according to a report in Biodiesel Magazine. This school's facility is the very first to earn accreditation as a BQ-9000 laboratory, meaning it is now a national leader in biodiesel fuel testing. The lab offers testing for biodiesel manufacturers across the country, as well as testing for other fuels like ethanol and petroleum. As of this time, only 62 biodiesel producers and marketers have earned the BQ-9000 rating, making Central Community College a member of a rather elite crowd.

The director of the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory, Don Heck, told Biodiesel Magazine, "One reason we wanted this accreditation is because people don't necessarily associate a community college with state-of-the-art laboratories, but that is exactly what we have, and BQ-9000 backs up our rating." To earn the accreditation, the lab had to create a detailed manual outlining every step of the testing process and get the facility approved by a third party.

Biodiesel is just one of the waves of the future, as our country turns to fuel alternatives that will clean up our environment and release our dependency on foreign oil. Community colleges have been leading the way in providing training in a host of recession-proof industries, and biodiesel technology is just another program to add to the list.

Biodiesel technicians provide important input into the future health of our world and enjoy stable work environments with good pay. If you have a head for math and science, as well as a commitment to a cleaner environment, perhaps a career in biodiesel technology is the right path for you.

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