Today, three of the region’s top institutions for higher education signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), called Connect4Wind, celebrating their long-term commitment to sharing resources and collaborating on the development of curriculum and programs centered on the offshore wind energy sector. It is the first time the three institutions have entered into a cross-collaborative agreement of this kind.
Bristol Community College President Laura L. Douglas, Massachusetts Maritime Academy Rear Admiral Francis X. McDonald and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Interim Dean and Professor, College of Engineering Ramprasad Balasubramanian signed the Connect4Wind agreement, a shared commitment with the goal of creating a vibrant and sustainable offshore wind industry that complements the existing and historic fishing and industrial uses of the port. It also develops a better understanding of the workforce requirements of existing models of offshore wind and deepens the understanding of offshore wind as a new industry sector with an appropriate supply chain model.
The academic partners will bring their unique expertise to the table with the commitment to share research, academic faculty and educational training facilities to encourage efficiency, and the fiscally responsible utilization of resources. The agreement further underscores the institutions shared commitment to the advancement of the regions offshore wind energy sector and Blue Economy.
“Today, we celebrate a long-term shared commitment in the development of our region’s workforce,” said Bristol Community College President Laura L. Douglas. “For Bristol Community College, this is one of several partnerships that further solidifies our commitment to offshore wind training and the creation of jobs. It also ensures that the region’s higher education institutions will be able to support the regions offshore wind industry with highly-skilled workers, innovative training programs, and the shared-use of specialized facilities, well into the future.”
"The opportunity to connect the Academy's expertise in energy and the maritime industries with Bristol Community College and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's expertise in workforce training and research, stands to propel Massachusetts into a leadership role in offshore wind nationwide" said Admiral Francis X. McDonald, President, Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
“UMass Dartmouth looks forward to building this partnership with Bristol Community College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy to accelerate the development of the offshore wind industry through innovation,” UMass Dartmouth Interim Dean and Professor, College of Engineering Ramprasad Balasubramanian said. “Offshore wind will be a cornerstone of a regional blue economy corridor that expands opportunity for people and communities across the region.”
The Connect4Wind creates a framework for cooperative efforts, and specifically includes:
- Student Participation: Inclusion in degree or non-degree granting offshore wind academic programs at each partner institution.
- Research Collaborations: Each institution will encourage research collaborations in areas of mutual interest.
- Visit of Faculty Members: An institution’s faculty members will submit teaching or research proposals for establishing visiting lectures, presentations and services at partner institutions.
- Shared Facility Utilization: Parties will identify specific teaching and research facilities to be made available for the utilization at their respective institutions.
The US Department of Energy estimates 43,000 new jobs will be created in the offshore wind market by 2030. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center recently published an assessment of the jobs and economic impacts associated with development of 1,600 megawatts in Massachusetts. That study estimated that over the next decade, offshore wind farms will create nearly 3,000 jobs and generate economic impacts between $1.2B and $2.1B in the region.
In 2016, Massachusetts enacted legislation requiring Eversource and National Grid to purchase 1,600 megawatts of electricity generated from offshore wind farms located in the Atlantic Ocean south of Martha’s Vineyard. Three major offshore wind companies currently have leases in the Massachusetts wind energy area and another lease is scheduled for the late summer. All three leaseholders submitted competitive bids in December and the Commonwealth will announce the successful bids on May 23.