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Wind of Change

University joins effort to prepare students for careers in renewable energy

Offshore wind is a promising renewable energy source with a critical need: talented workers. And that’s where Bridgewater State University is playing a role.

BSU recently joined Connect4Wind, a collaboration of six public higher education institutions in Southeastern Massachusetts which will share research, faculty and facilities.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Bridgewater State and all the universities and colleges to showcase their strengths and bring those strengths to the table to ensure offshore wind is a successful endeavor,” said Dr. Jeanean Davis-Street, dean of the Ricciardi College of Business.

With expertise in entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and cybersecurity, Bridgewater brings important dimensions to a partnership designed to prepare students for careers.

“We want to make sure students are really able to meet the needs of employers,” said Dr. Stacey Kaminski, executive director of the CONNECT Partnership, which oversees Connect4Wind. “That’s why all campuses have worked diligently to get training aligned with workforce needs.” 

BSU’s contribution encompasses the colleges of business and science and mathematics. Students can study geographic information systems that assist in siting wind turbines, learn to fly drones that help diagnose turbine problems, and master cybersecurity techniques that protect the electrical grid from attacks.

“We can leverage our expertise in undergraduate research for students interested in projects related to wind energy in our wind tunnel and through the utilization of drone technology on and off campus,” said Dr. Kristen Porter-Utley, dean of the Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics.

Offshore wind is especially exciting for historically overlooked cities, such as New Bedford, that will be major players in the industry, Davis-Street said.

“This will provide an opportunity to support and lift up those communities,” she said. “We want to keep an eye and focus on diversity, equity and inclusion so it doesn’t just lift one segment of the population.”

Entrepreneurial skills honed at BSU could help students start businesses and restaurants to support the industry and its workforce, Davis-Street said.

In addition to BSU, Massasoit and Cape Cod community colleges recently joined Bristol Community College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Connect4Wind.

“I am so delighted that we are partnering with our close and valued community college partners to expand Connect4Wind,” Porter-Utley said.

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