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The Wind Will Carry Jobs...
Local colleges agreed Friday to work together to make sure local residents are ready to catch them.
Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and Massachusetts Maritime Academy signed a memorandum of understanding to combine resources and collaborate on courses to prepare students for work in the wind energy industry.
“We will all work together on a wind curriculum,” said Laura Douglas, the BCC president. “We each have our specialty areas. We will work together to strengthen them.” “The MOU will also clarify for the industry to services available to them from the colleges in Southeastern Mass,” said Francis X. McDonald, president of the Mass Maritime Academy. “Sometimes that is not well choreographed.”
Wind energy is just starting to catch on in the United States.
One of the first wind farms on the east coast is located just south of Block Island. There are two more wind farms, much larger in scale, proposed for water south of Martha’s Vineyard. Three more companies are completing designs for more wind turbines off the coast. “When you look at studies on wind power, the Northeast has a big advantage because of the continental shelf,” McDonald said. BCC, UMass Dartmouth, Mass Maritime to collaborate on wind curriculum.
The continental shelf off of Massachusetts extends 200 miles into the ocean, dropping at a gentle slope of about 10 feet per mile. It makes it easier to build wind turbines, which are taller than the Hancock Tower in Boston.
Plus the jet stream carrying air out of Canada drops down over the Plains states and then swings over to the coast right above us. It almost touches the Gulf Stream that carries warm water up the Atlantic from the Caribbean.
A river of strong wind gets squeezed between those two currents, providing a reliable breeze. “This is the Starbucks corner for wind in North America,” said Paul Vigeant, vice president for workforce development at BCC and executive director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center.
What that all means are jobs. Possibly lots of jobs, college officials say. BCC will bring its skills at workforce training to meet with industry representatives and fine tune programs to give students the skills they need to work as technicians and safety engineers.
Mass Maritime will concentrate on water jobs, especially transporting people and material to offshore wind platforms.
UMass Dartmouth will tailor engineering programs for wind power and craft studies to examine the environmental effects of the wind turbines. “We have the faculty and the expertise and we are well positioned with workforce development and research,” said Ramprasad Balasubramanian, interim dean of the college of engineering at UMass Dartmouth.
For the colleges, the agreement will save money and time, officials say. Each institution can concentrate on its specialty without having to duplicate the efforts of the others.
For students, it will simplify the path to a job in the wind industry, McDonald said. “No matter what front door the students walks through, it will lead to the same place,” he said.
And all the signs point to wind energy playing a big part of the country’s energy needs, he added. “The timing for us is good,” McDonald said. “With all the electricity locally coming off line, with Brayton Point and Pilgrim nuclear going off line, wind will become more important. “As the mid-Atlantic states start to get into this, we will have a leg up on them. That will help, too.”
By Kevin P. O’Connor, Herald News Staff Reporter, email@example.com
Posted by the Herald News