SUNY Morrisville alumnus expands students’ experiences, new ACET Center

Published date
9 a.m.

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — As a student, John Derouchey benefited from myriad experiences in SUNY Morrisville’s renewable energy program.

The field work, hands-on learning, networking and faculty expertise packed his portfolio, giving him a full plate of opportunities when he graduated among the college’s first cohort of renewable energy bachelor of technology degree students in 2013.

Derouchey pursued the solar energy field, landing a job at Steed Energy LLC right out of college, and later as a design engineer for another company, before going to work for Nexamp Energy, a leader in clean energy and solar projects across the United States. 

This past Spring, Derouchey took time out of his busy schedule to give students in Assistant Professor Ryan Quinn’s Advanced Topics in Solar Photovoltaics class an up-close look at a solar farm project he managed, constructed by Nexamp Energy, in Canastota, New York. 

The project is expected to add more than 13 MW of clean energy to the electric grid, enough to meet the power needs of approximately 2,000 average homes, according to Nexamp. 

“When I was a student, I gained valuable experience from monitoring sites as they were being constructed and I wanted to provide Morrisville students with the chance to see the many opportunities that exist in the solar field,” he said. 

The hands-on and field experience are among the trademarks of SUNY Morrisville’s renewable energy programs. 

“I owe my accomplishments to Morrisville,” Derouchey said. “I was ready to go into the field day one after I graduated.” 

More doors will open for graduates with the new on-campus Agricultural and Clean Energy Technology (ACET) Center near completion. The building will welcome its first students in the fall.

“I am amazed to see how the program has evolved,” said Derouchey. “The new building will enhance students’ skillsets even more.”

The 30,000-square-foot applied learning technology building will bolster the renewable energy, agricultural engineering and diesel technology programs. 

Throughout his career, Derouchey worked in various construction roles before returning to college, at age 50, to pursue a degree in the renewable field — his focus on solar.

“I knew solar was taking off and was a hot field,” he said.  

During their visit to the solar farm, Quinn’s students got a firsthand look at a Megawatt-scale solar project under construction, as well as some of the technologies and projects they had been working to design with all semester.

“Students spend most of their semester in the Advanced Topics in Solar Photovoltaics class preparing mechanical layouts, electrical diagrams, evaluating economic viability of a potential project, and completing the many permitting requirements for large-scale solar PV projects,” Quinn said.

After completing classes in solar installation and operations and basic project design and development, students are challenged to take their knowledge to another scale, learning how to design and develop Megawatt-scale solar projects that power the energy needs of large businesses and/or entire communities, according to Quinn. 

About the ACET Center
The new $16 million Agricultural and Clean Energy Technology (ACET) Center, a 30,000-square-foot applied learning technology building, will bolster the renewable energy, agricultural engineering and diesel technology programs. 

Renewable energy students will have indoor solar roofs, several wind turbines, bioenergy labs, heat pump technologies and 35-foot climbing towers for hands-on clean energy training.

Three large garage bays for diesel technology and agricultural engineering will increase capacity for servicing heavy equipment and long-haul tractor and trailer assemblies. Each lab will feature a five-ton overhead crane, multiple project stations and state-of-the-art testing equipment.

The real-world laboratories, based on industry standards, help prepare students to succeed in industries that are hungry for qualified graduates.