Solar buff plans new semester for club

By James Walls
Campus News Editor

Chris Catron, solar energy major and President of the Solar Green club, has had an active role in alternative energies at Crowder College since his first semester in 2011. Acting as vice president of the club during that semester, he has been given many opportunities since then to prove his skills in the solar energy field, as well as other fields. Due to his experience, he is currently employed as the work-study for the MARET Center this semester.

Before Crowder

Catron’s interest in alternative energies did not begin at Crowder, but instead stemmed from experiences he had in his youth.

“My interest in solar and alternative energies began when I was a child, when my father was interested in it,” said Catron. “He was a general contractor. He built his own solar powered, heated, cooled and driven home when I was eleven. That got the interest started.”

Since then, his passion for alternative energy has grown immensely, as has his knowledge of it.

“[Alternative energies] are more than a necessity, it’s going to be, without a doubt, the leader in energy production in the next 50 years,” Catron said firmly, showing his passion for the subject.

He himself has had experience with solar energy off campus as well, having built his own small solar power supply system at his home in response to long power outages during the 2007 and 2008 winter ice storms. This, among other traits, made him a likely candidate for the position of Vice President of Solar Green during his first semester, as well as for the position of the club’s President in following semesters.

Solar Green

Catron became President of Solar Green in his second semester, replacing Matt Blair who had to leave due to personal reasons. Acting as the club leader since then, he has made an impression on not only the facultysponsor, but students as well. “He’s a good teacher, and a good leader by example,” said Joel Lamson, solar energy instructor and faculty sponsor for Solar Green. “And he’s self-directed. I have to give him very little management and that’s what we need when we need someone to do our work.”

According to Philip Wilson, a solar energy major and current member of Solar Green, Catron’s abilities as club president have helped him find a calling he didn’t think he had. “I didn’t take classes and I wasn’t motivated to go and take my compass test to enroll until I found the solar club,” Wilson admitted.  “So when I found Solar Green, I started getting into it more and more and more for some reason. I knew that was what I wanted to major my life around.” While last semester’s turnout in the club was rather weak, Catron says that those who did attend were very loyal and interested in the club.

“[They] were very much in-tune with what the club’s agenda is, and that is to promote a clean energy supply and teach technologies to people for free what many students pay for,” said Catron, relating the club’s genuine mission. “It’s not as in-depth, but it’s definitely a great step-up into the alternative energy world.”

With many projects already lined up for this semester’s club meetings, such as building hot water solar panels to heat biofuel makings and revamping some of the solar houses that went to the Solar Decathlon, Catron is anticipating an increase in participation. However, despite these large projects, one activity is currently at the top of the club’s list.

“We are going to hold the first Solar Bike Race since 2010,” Catron said, sounding rather eager to get Crowder involved in such activities once again. While being an on campus race and not national or international like some of the previous races have been, he hopes this would be a step towards the club’s, and Crowder’s, prior glory.

Considering how much is being planned out for the semester, Catron has taken other steps to ensure everyone interested can attend. With club meetings now offered Tuesday through Friday from “roughly” 3-6 p.m., he hopes that all students with an interest in solar will take the time to stop by and participate in the activities.

“We’re always doing something over there, which is why I like going over there – there’s always something to do,” said Wilson, relating his opinion of the club.

Outside of the Club

Despite his active role at the MARET Center and in Solar Green, Catron has many other talents and hobbies outside of solar energy. He is into woodworking, carving and staining hunting bows which can be used for hunting or decoration, working with wind turbines, riding motorcycles, automotive work and many other hobbies as well.

“He could do anything,” said Lamson, stating his view on Catron’s skills and potential future, “I don’t think he’s field specific. Whatever he wants to do, he can do it, I believe.”

However, despite his many talents, Catron admits solar energy is his true passion “I’m pretty much a solar geek,” Catron stated. “These things never leave my mind. Energy all the time, and occasionally my wife makes me have a conversation about something else.”