Energy Field Leads the Way

September 13, 2013

Like many GCC students, when Jamie Cross started at GCC in the spring of 2009, he wasn’t sure where he was headed. GCC helped him find the way. This fall, Jamie is studying at Illinois State University towards a master’s degree in Project Management focused in the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) field.

Jamie grew up in Buckland, graduated from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, and studied at  Bridgewater State College for a year and a half. As Jamie admits, his first attempt at college didn’t go well. He worked for a year after leaving Bridgewater, then decided to give GCC a try.

One of Jamie’s GCC classes in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency sparked his interest, so he took more. Then, Jamie spent a summer as an intern at Sandri, a large energy company in Greenfield, funded through a program of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). He dealt with customer rebates, visited job sites, and interacted with businesses in the field. Jamie’s internship solidified his interest in the RE/EE field. He realized renewable energy had good career opportunities that also made a positive contribution to the community.

Jamie graduated from GCC with an Associate in Arts, Option in RE/EE in January, 2012. At that time, there were very few RE/EE bachelor’s degree programs, but Jamie found one in Renewable Energy at Illinois State University. Interested in a focus on business rather than technical aspects, Jamie transferred to Illinois State in the economics track of the Renewable Energy Program.

Jamie did well in Illinois, saying “The classes at GCC were more rigorous than those at Illinois State. GCC provided me with technical knowledge and field experience compared to ISU students who had only taken survey courses of the various technologies. I knew a lot more about solar and building sciences.”

Jamie served as vice president of the Renewable Energy Society student group and as a teaching assistant for a class on Energy Management. He received his bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2013 and then spent ten days in Germany on an ISU Renewable Energy Department trip touring wind, solar, and sustainable development communities. He was awed by the advanced level of renewable energy production.

Looking back, Jamie said, “GCC really can transform your ideas. If you’re lost in knowing what you want to do, GCC can help you pinpoint what you want and help you throughout the process. GCC was challenging, the classes were small, I knew the professors well. Christine Copeland, Program Assistant and Intern Coordinator for the RE/EE program, really helped me get the internship and into Illinois State.”

Teresa Jones, coordinator of GCC’s RE/EE Program, said, “GCC’s RE/EE program started with funding for workforce development, and we’ve seen many energy sector workers grow in their skills, older students transition to new careers, and successful professionals apply new skills and knowledge to existing ones. For many, this is a terminal degree. Jamie was a more traditional community college student looking for direction who very successfully transitioned to a four-year institution and beyond. Jamie is on track for a higher-level management position in the Energy and Facilities field and wants to bring his skills and knowledge back to New England and be part of the energy transformation here.”

For information about GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Program, contact Christine Copeland or Teresa Jones at or (413) 775-1472.

By Mary McClintock, ’82