Jacob McGinley
BS, Sustainable Energy Management; Class of 2014
Solar Installer
Sundog Solar
Searsport, Maine

I am currently on the installation team at Sundog Solar in Searsport, Maine, where I spend most of my time installing solar PV systems and mini-split heat pumps. I also take the occasional venture into the world of solar hot water and whole house radiant heating systems.

My responsibilities are primarily module mounting and other roof work and assisting with – and, of course, absorbing like a sponge — the electrical work. I am also our primary mini-split heat pump installer and a go-to for mechanical work.

The best part about my job, aside for the gorgeous views, seeing a great deal of the state, wonderful people and the green title, is the feeling that I am a forward-thinking and positive contributor to my own community, environment and economy.

I was drawn to Unity College for its environmental focus and emphasis for getting out there (wherever an individual’s “there” may be). But it did not take very long, a matter of weeks, for me to fall in love with the people and community in central and mid-coast Maine.

Honestly, I spent a lot my time at Unity trying to pin down how it was I wanted to go out and do my part to improve the world. It was a great pleasure to have the chance to work with the very talented Jesse Pyles, who gave me a lot of insight into the worlds of institutional sustainability and outreach; and I had the great experience of working for (Associate Professor of Mathematics) Dr. Carrie Diaz-Eaton (also my academic advisor, with saint-like patience) doing research and assisting with grading and other tasks.

These were valuable experiences but alas, did not capture my heart and imagination. For that, I can thank the wonderful Dr. Michael “Mick” Womersley for opening my eyes in his Energy and Energy Efficiency course, welcoming me to the program when I switched to Sustainable Energy Management in my first semester, and for then helping me find an internship in the field.

That internship was at Sundog Solar the summer before my senior year, and now I find myself extremely fulfilled with my job at a company that’s doing great work with even better people and feel prepared and excited to charge along with what the future holds.

I have even had the opportunity not just to install solar hot water collectors on Carrie’s home but the chance to install solar PV on several other roofs belonging to some of my alma mater’s faculty.

Unity is a unique place where — as much as you want to learn, you can; and as much a part of community, on and off campus, you want to be, you can. The important thing to remember as a Unity student is that you have to want these things, and to seek out these things. I have classmates who work as far away as Alaska and others who work, like me, in the state of Maine; the thing they all have in common is they decided what they really wanted to do (or were at least pretty sure … life certainly happens) and then found a way to do it.

It’s simple, really, but I’m still very thankful that Unity is the kind of place where if, even armed with a degree and the old college try, you are still struggling with something, that simple there are plenty of professors and others more than willing to help get you moving in that direction.

Thursday, February 18, 2016