Wesley Walker, M.B.A. ’12, made his mark on the Normal landscape in a big way this year. The Siemens Corporation energy engineer was part of the team making vast sustainability improvements to the campus of Heartland Community College, including the addition of a wind turbine.
Heartland is believed to be the first community college in the state to have a commercial-grade turbine. The school helped form the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network.
The turbine is expected to generate approximately 53 percent of the energy needed to run the community college campus located in north Normal.
This will result in a savings of $380,000 a year, which is guaranteed because an agreement with Siemens binds the company to supplement any shortfall for the next 17 years.
The savings will pay for the cost of the $5.2 million project. Of that total, $1.5 million was received in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
A sustainability project of this magnitude is nothing new for Walker, who has spearheaded efforts with the Kankakee Housing Authority, City of Rockford and Chicago park districts.
While working on the project, Walker and his wife, Erika, M.B.A. ’12, began ISU’s M.B.A. program.
“It was really enjoyable to enter the program together,” Walker said. “We never had an opportunity to see each other in that scenario before. It was interesting to get to know each other as students. It was actually really fun.”
The knowledge gained from the graduate program has been useful to Walker, especially in his new role overseeing Siemens’ engineering group for the Midwest.
“I have a lot more managerial responsibilities for the region from North Dakota, down to Missouri and to Wisconsin,” Walker said, “which was my goal of beginning the program.”