Kevin Shallanberger, left, and Cole Watts, students at Arroyo Grande High School, demonstrate how to work an energy conversion machine.

The Lucia Mar Unified School District unveiled a six-piece energy conversion station Tuesday at Arroyo Grande High School.

Students and faculty members showed reporters the set of labs — three mini-wind turbines, one wind turbine, a heating and insulation panel and a solar panel.

Students use the equipment to gauge the amount of natural element exposure needed to convert energy to electricity.

Brad Lachemann, a green construction teacher at Arroyo Grande High, said students can determine how many solar panels are needed to create enough energy to light a house, for example.

The technology unveiling Tuesday aligns with a new energy technology and environmental engineering program offered at AGHS as part of a pathways program implemented in August 2013.

The Pacific Gas and Electric Co. funded solar equipment for the new pathway through a $10,000 grant.

Pat Mullen, a director at PG&E, said the Bright Ideas grant program has allowed the company to allocate $2.6 million to 300 schools in California. His goal is to better arm students with practical skills.

“Nationally there’s over 3 million jobs that are unfilled and that are going to be unfilled because they can’t find the candidates that have the skills and abilities to go into these jobs,” Mullen said.

The pathways program, which added 34 new courses at Lucia Mar high schools and middle schools, is intended to help students select academic or career interests to tailor their high school education.

Amy Jacobs, a spokeswoman in the Lucia Mar district, said the 2016 graduating class will be the first class to cycle through four years of the pathways program.

Kevin Shallanberger, a student in the exploring engineering and solar technology course at Arroyo Grande, said he decided to take the engineering course because he wanted to learn useful skills.

“I’ve always believed in doing something that helps you out in life.”


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