Four SBU Programs Share Offshore Wind Training and Workforce Development Grants

Four Stony Brook University programs will share $1.5 million in Offshore Wind Training Institute(OWTI) grants awarded to prepare students for careers in the offshore wind industry.

The winning programs will expand workforce development and training initiatives for jobs in constructing, manufacturing, installing, operating and maintaining offshore wind farms. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced this second round of funding in February; the first round of $4 million of OWTI grants was announced in May 2023. A total of $8 million for 28 grants has been awarded across multiple SUNY campuses, with individual awards up to $500,000.

Selected programs from Stony Brook faculty and staff include:

Fang Luo, SUNY Empire Innovation associate professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Spellman High Voltage Power Electronics Laboratory and Derek O’Connor, manager, Workforce Development, Office of Economic DevelopmentPatricia Malone, associate vice president, School of Professional Development and co-director of the Offshore Wind Training Institute; Peng Zhang, SUNY Empire Innovation professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Yifan Zhou, assistant professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Luo and O’Connor’s project proposes the construction of an analog-focused laboratory and complimentary training program for those who have completed an electronics or engineering associate degree, striving to upskill in or enter the utility workforce, or currently earning credentials in energy-focused courses. Supported by lectures from engineering faculty, students will earn a micro-credential by completing lab training that will provide a career-growth pathway for entry-level professionals and serves as a critical linkage for workforce development in the renewable energy ecosystem.

Malone’s proposal will provide an interdisciplinary 30-hour program to educate emerging, existing, and transitioning professionals from numerous sectors in the landscape of the clean energy workforce and the role of offshore wind. Modules will be offered by experts from all relevant industries and faculty from Stony Brook University’s College of BusinessCollege of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Students will receive a certificate of completion and a micro-credential in an interdisciplinary introduction to the foundations of offshore wind.

“The Offshore Wind Training Institute’s awards to Stony Brook will allow us to expand and develop multi-disciplinary programs to support the growing offshore wind and clean energy workforce,” Malone said. “The collaboration between the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the College of Business, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, the School of Professional Development and the Advanced Energy Center will provide students and professionals with the latest research, education and training necessary to meet the challenges ahead.”

Zhang’s project will develop Offshore Wind (OSW) training materials to help address projected OSW workforce gaps and prepare trainees for high-growth careers via practical and high-quality training. It will expand existing College of Engineering and Applied Sciences programs to incorporate offshore wind energy curriculum and to offer micro-credentials to equip professionals and workers with skills needed for designing, planning and operating OSW systems.

Zhou proposes an interdisciplinary OSW Education Hub to develop a workforce for planning, building and operating next-generation, digitized power grids capable of accommodating massive OSW. The Hub will: (1) build the nation’s largest immersive, all-digital learning environment for OSW workforce training; (2) create multi-level programs, comprising College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences curriculum, micro-credentials, and pre-college programs, to offer tangible education products on cutting-edge OSW and grid digitalization technologies; (3) develop equity-focused training activities to promote the equitable and long-term involvement of minority and disadvantaged populations.

The $20 million OWTI was launched in 2020 in collaboration with Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to advance offshore wind training programs and the educational infrastructure needed to establish a skilled workforce that can support the emerging national offshore wind industry.

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