HOPE, Ark. - The University of Arkansas Hope - Texarkana is taking major strides in solar energy technology.
Starting January 11, the university will begin classes in the state's first solar education lab.
University officials say the lab will give students a real hands-on learning experience that will allow them to become accredited solar technicians.
The one-mega watt solar array and learning lab is located at the south end of the Hope campus.
A solar array is a collection of multiple solar panels that generate electricity as a system.
UAHT Chancellor Christine Holt says the state has an expanding renewable energy market.
It ranks 25th in the nation for solar installations.
There's currently about 43,000 homes powered by solar, and 26 solar companies in the state.
"So as we continue to see that demand grow and industry, we're hoping that our students will be on the cutting edge. They'll be at the cusp of this new program, this new industry, and we can give them the skills and the training, all they'll need to be successful," said Holt.
Holt says students will need to take three courses to earn a certificate.
The classes will train students on how to install, construct, maintain and operate solar electric systems.
The university is also making plans to use solar energy to provide electricity to the college, and allow it to become more environmentally friendly.
Registration is open now.
For more information about the solar energy program, go to uaht.edu.