SUNY Poly Receives Two Grants Totaling $568,000 to Establish Offshore Wind Training Team and Workforce Development Efforts
Will help build much-needed career preparation in growing industry
ALBANY and UTICA, NY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) today announced it has received two grants totaling $568,000. The first grant for nearly $400,000 will establish the SUNY Poly Offshore Wind Training Team (SPOWT²). The SPOWT² will prepare SUNY Poly students for careers in the offshore wind industry, enhance the faculty’s expertise on the subject, as well as fund scholarships for underrepresented and non-traditional populations interested in the field. The project is led by SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr. Zhanjie Li.
The second grant, for $168,000, supports the development of a micro-credential program focused on offshore wind technology and training. This program is a collaboration between Farmingdale State College (FSC) and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), where Professor of Nanoengineering Dr. Haralabos Efstathiadis leads the program to facilitate students gaining hands-on training on state-of-the-art equipment to test materials used in the blades of the wind turbines. They will learn about the development of materials to prevent micro-cracks and also protect them from degradation and corrosion.
The offshore wind training grants were awarded by the State University of New York (SUNY) on behalf of New York’s Offshore Wind Training Institute, which launched in 2021 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.
Currently, New York has five offshore wind projects in active development, the largest offshore wind pipeline in the nation, totaling more than 4,300 megawatts and representing nearly 50 percent of the capacity needed to meet New York’s nation-leading offshore wind goal of 9,000 megawatts by 2035, which is estimated to power six million homes.
The $20 million OWTI, launched in collaboration with SUNY’s Farmingdale State College, Stony Brook University, and NYSERDA, aims 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. In cultivating a statewide umbrella of industry, academic, trade, and community partnerships, the OWTI will certify and train 2,500 New York workers beginning this year to support both offshore and onshore renewable energy projects.
“Here at SUNY Poly, we pride ourselves on preparing students to enter the workforce and immediately make an impact,” said SUNY Poly Officer-in-Charge Dr. Andrew Russell. “We are excited to work and collaborate with Farmingdale State College on these two projects that are a prime example of how SUNY Poly is providing strategically targeted experiential learning opportunities as New York’s premier public polytechnic. It also brings the state closer to accomplishing its offshore wind goals, and I commend Drs. Li and Efstathiadis and all those involved with making the SPOWT² project and clean energy-related workforce development efforts happen.”
“Offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the future of energy in New York State,” said Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Michael Carpenter. “Dr. Li and the SPOWT² are up to the task of preparing SUNY Poly graduates to be a part of that future.”
“To reach critical green energy goals and support climate sustainability, we know it is imperative to further build New York State’s workforce in the offshore wind industry, and the SPOWT² will play a crucial role in this effort by producing graduates with the expertise needed to move into a career in offshore wind,” said Li. “We are grateful for this investment in SUNY Poly.”
The SPOWT² will develop a strong workforce training program to increase the number of engineers, scientists, and engineering technicians with the skills needed in the current offshore wind industry. Their goal is to provide the necessary technical education and to inspire students and professionals to seek careers in the growing field.
The SPOWT² will consist of faculty in SUNY Poly’s civil and mechanical engineering and engineering technology programs to enhance workforce training in the design, construction, and manufacture of offshore wind. It will also encompass students from the high school level through graduate-level programs in engineering and engineering technology.
The SPOWT² will be collaborating with partners, such as GE Renewable Energy (Niskayuna, NY) and Ralph O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute (ROSEI) in Johns Hopkins University, to provide expert advice, collaboration on curriculum, projects, undergraduate research, seminars, and opportunities for internships and careers. Students will be able to engage in many different opportunities for experiential learning in offshore wind. As part of the new curriculum, new micro-credentials and advanced certificate programs in offshore wind energy are expected to be developed at SUNY Poly.
A comprehensive plan including an expanding curriculum, undergraduate research, hand-on labs, and a K-12 summer camp is designed to make SUNY Poly’s Utica campus a hub for promoting and supporting offshore wind industries in New York State. The breadth of this proposed work includes significant support for several of OWTI’s priority focus areas.
Offshore Wind Workforce Technology Micro-Credential
“We are eager to work closely with Farmingdale State College to support offshore wind technology-focused courses and microcredentials, and I salute Dr. Efstathiadis as he spearheads the special training component to be able to monitor, assess, and ensure the structural integrity of wind turbines,” said Interim Dean of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Dr. André Melendez. “This grant is a testament to the power of clean energy research and academic partnerships, and I am excited to see how it fosters the success of New York State’s next-generation innovation workforce.”
“We are proud to support this effort to create microcredentials for FSC and SUNY Poly students, and I look forward to this collaboration which will allow us to specially train students to identify structural issues regarding wind turbines and then address such challenges to support a workforce that can allow this clean energy source to reach its full potential with less downtime,” said Dr. Efstathiadis.
As part of this project, new courses will be developed, focused on offshore wind technology. The CNSE team will create a special training component where students can diagnose and address wind turbine structural concerns before they become catastrophic, such as micro-cracks, while monitoring their overall structural health.
The program will foster curriculum expansion and build capacity to meet near-term industry needs via the advanced training program aimed at offshore wind technology operation. It will be open to Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS) and School of Engineering Technology (SET) students at FSC as well as those working in related fields seeking to enter the offshore wind industry, with virtual options for both coursework and training offered to include SUNY Poly students.
Grants such as this these are part of the OWTI’s continued effort to create, expand, or improve SUNY-based programs that can demonstrably prepare students to pursue careers in the offshore wind industry, as well as create programs that assist working professionals seeking to transition into the offshore wind sector. The OWTI ensures investments in programs for offshore wind workforce development leverage and mutually support work led by the SUNY academic institutions. They do so by developing partnerships directly with key state entities, including NYSERDA, and the New York State Governor’s Office and throughout the SUNY system. For more info on OWTI, click here.