Faribault High School Distinguished Alumni 2019 Brad Burkhartzmeyer
Seven Faribault High School graduates will be recognized as Faribault High School High Flyers Distinguished alumni members during a reception May 11th at the Faribault American Legion Post 43. We will feature a different member of the class over the next several days. The entire bio will not be included but highlights of them have been chosen for this purpose
Jill Fagerlund and Cheryl Freund were recent guests on KDHL AM Minnesota to reveal those to be honored. Fagerlund is the chairperson of the Falcon High Flyer Alumni Award Committee and Freund is the historian.
Fagerlund is a 1968 FHS graduate and attended a reunion of her class a few years ago where she learned a classmate had died. His obituary included many accomplishments she thought were incredible and should be recognized. Shortly after she visited her sister and they talked about what happened. Her sister said the high school in the town in which she was living had a distinguished alumni hall of fame.
When Fagerlund returned to Faribault she ran the idea by many of her friends and all felt it was terrific. This year's class is the third to be recognized.
Brad Burkhartzmeyer, FSHS Class of 1978. Co-founder of Remote Energy. He is described as a "rock star for teaching technicians and engineers in other countries how to install solar systems." The bio for Burkhartzmeyer says classmates and colleagues remember him for his "funny wit that keeps them laughing and completely engaged."
Brad studied to be a math teacher, his first job was in Mexico teaching pre-calculus in Spanish at an all-girls school. He also acted as a Mexican program director for the Center of Global Education. His next teaching job took him to an inner-city Detroit high school where he taught math and history.
Burkhartzmeyer then shifted to work as a community organizer for several years. After moving to Seattle, he changed fields to become an electrician with the intent of moving into the solar industry field. He's been running Sun's Eye Solar Power in Tacoma for 14 years.
Brad's first international solar job was in 2007, traveling to Rwanda for three weeks to manage 11 local technicians installing systems in four hospitals. From there he installed several PV (photovoltaic) systems for the Rotary Club in Ghana and India.
Brad says, "It was clear from my travels that renewable energy needed to spready really fast around the world, and the best way to increase this rate was to train more people. Teaching PV classes is a way that I can work on alleviating poverty and shift the way we get our world's energy."
After the 9/11 tragedy Brad asked himself how he could make the world a better place. His answer, "Bring solar power to the developing world. It's incredible how people's lives can change because of something so small."
Burkhartzmeyer sold his electrical contracting business and moved to Guatemala where he built a micro-sized hydroelectric generator in a rural community. After the Guatemalan project, Brad returned to Tacoma and helped form a collective group of inventors to advocate for and build solar systems.
He was part of the initial phase of Brad Pitt's $12 million dollar project to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans where 180 homes have been built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. All the homes are solar powered.
Since 2005 Brad has worked exclusively on solar energy, focusing his efforts in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, India and Haiti. He helps communities by installing solar panels and gives them the tools to do it themselves, helping create their own industry and job market.
The son of Buck Burkhartzmeyer of Burkhartzmeyer Shoes fame told the selection committee for the High Flyers, "It's so exciting to be in this industry at this time."