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Stony Brook University to launch offshore wind training this summer

Patricia Malone, associate vice president for professional education

Patricia Malone, associate vice president for professional education at Stony Brook, said the university is attempting to get a diverse mix of candidates for the offshore wind training class. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Stony Brook University is launching its first certificate program in offshore wind this summer — the start of what’s expected to be a broader effort to train thousands of workers in the burgeoning field.

The three-week summer program, working with faculty from across three different schools at the university, will cover topics from wind turbine aerodynamics and impacts on marine life to state and federal climate policy and preparing the grid for offshore wind. It also will examine opposition to offshore wind from groups such as fishermen who see it as a threat to their livelihoods, and the prospect of "coexistence," according to course materials.

The 45-hour program, which will be open to 30 people, is free to participants and is funded by seed grants from the SUNY chancellor and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, said Patricia Malone, associate vice president for professional education at Stony Brook. The program — the Fundamentals of Offshore Wind — is the first of what Malone said she expects to be a broader offering of programs, certificates and even advanced and undergraduate degrees in offshore wind and related topics, with future classes and programs funded through fees paid by students.

It's Stony Brook's first program from a state consortium with SUNY and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to meet the needs of a new offshore wind industry. Stony Brook has partnered with Farmingdale State College on an Offshore Wind Training Institute as part of the plan.

The first Stony Brook training program, scheduled via Zoom from Aug. 2-20, is open to people with four-year degrees, or two-year degrees with two years of related industry experience. Malone said the university is marketing the class around the state to make sure a diverse mix of candidates is involved, including from a range of potential careers and geographic regions.

"We think this is going to create a great professional community to support the movement in this area" of offshore wind, Malone said. Already, she added, 37 people have applied for the class, and plans are underway for more classes later this year. "We would probably launch this for a fee in the fall and keep it running," she said. The deadline to apply is July 15, and the program is open to New York State residents only.

The program is the product of months of planning and development by Stony Brook faculty and leaders from around the campus, including the School of Professional Development, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and the Advanced Energy Center. Professors and staff from each of the schools participate the program.

Additional classes and programs are expected in the next six to 24 months, she said.

Certificate holders could apply for the higher-level jobs expected to be offered as the offshore wind industry takes off on Long Island and the East Coast, Malone said. Equinor, the Norwegian energy conglomerate, plans two wind farms off the South Shore starting in 2024, and Orsted, the Danish energy giant, and its partner, Eversource, are planning primarily New England-based turbines to feed the Long Island and state grids starting in 2023. Both have committed funding to train legions of workers and professionals in the industry as work gets underway.

Training for operational, maintenance, construction and other workers is offered at community colleges. Suffolk County Community College and Farmingdale State College are among those that will offer such training, Malone said.

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