Just around a year ago, the South Coast Air Quality Management District donated $1 million to fund the Air Quality and Climate Change Training program (ACT) at UCR’s Center of Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT).
CE-CERT Director Nicole Davis explained the nature of the program in an interview with The Highlander. “It is for people who are coming into the Inland Empire with an interest in new technologies and the climate change industry,” she said. She stated that the program will include a diverse group of participants including graduate students, undergraduates and community college students. Davis added, “What we are building is a training program on particular topics so some of the technical work can be done by engineers and so the technicians would go to another portion.”
The program aims to introduce people from a wide range of industries and experience levels to new climate change technologies as they come out and hopes to have them take an interest in the field and continue to work with it in the future. Its brochure contains an extensive list of industries from which the program aims to recruit its participants. Davis stated that some of the individuals conducting the training have sponsored undergraduate students to take classes on air quality and climate change and then aim to have them intern at the companies the professors work for. This is the first program of its kind, and is modeled similarly to UCR’s week-long coding camp and other two-week summer extension programs.
Davis explained that the program is designed in line with California’s ultimate aim of becoming a net zero state, meaning the total amount of energy the state uses must equal the total amount of reusable energy it creates. “To help California reach its energy requirements, we need to roll out a lot of new technologies. The problem is that we need more technicians who understand how to use them so they don’t get wasted,” said Davis. She cited the extensive solar technologies that are currently available which she believes need to be coupled with interest in working with them. According to the program’s website, it will include courses specializing in topics such as emissions and air quality and air pollution health impacts.
CE-CERT held a conference from March 22-23 during which they gave an hour-long teaser that introduced attendees to the overall content of the program. There were 150 people in attendance and Davis felt it was well-received. “One of the good points here is that in general, Riverside is growing in terms of high tech jobs and this program is going to prepare residents for these jobs and contribute to that trend,” he said. The program aims to launch this July.