AMHERST, Mass. – The Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) recently announced that a team led by UMass Extension professor Dwayne Breger at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected to receive $220,000 in grant funding to support the growth of the UMass Clean Energy Extension’s (CEE) Offshore Wind Professional Certificate Program.
The grant award follows two previous program awards from MassCEC and will help UMass Amherst to meet its goals of expanding, broadening and sustaining its 3-course graduate certificate program offerings to meet increasing demand for a highly skilled workforce needed to serve the state’s growing offshore wind industry. Since its establishment in 2020, the program has helped more than 80 students rapidly upskill for the offshore wind industry.
The funding comes through the MassCEC’s Offshore Wind Works program, which seeks to develop and implement innovative workforce training programs to increase access to clean energy careers, education, and training.
“We’re grateful for the continued support of the Baker-Polito Administration and the MassCEC,” says CEE Director Dwayne Breger. “This critical support comes at a time when the demand for our professional training is accelerating and our program needs to expand and reach a financially sustainable path.”
Max Dilthey, curriculum lead and program manager of the Offshore Wind Professional Certificate, says of the award: “This funding provides essential resources for us to continue preparing students and professionals, including underrepresented students supported through our Career Access Scholarship, for the unprecedented future growth of the offshore wind industry. Our students are in great demand and our curriculum and industry speakers are constantly updating as offshore wind development expands in the US.”
The funding will enable UMass and its partner organizations to expand the current scope of the certificate program and deepen the abilities of the UMass Clean Energy Extension and its more than 30 offshore wind industry partners to provide direct pathways for students and scholarship recipients to join the Massachusetts workforce. Specifically, the funding will be dedicated to:
- Expanding the UMass Offshore Wind Career Access Scholarship to provide increased access for underrepresented groups to join the offshore wind industry at the professional level.
- Broadening curriculum offerings with the development of a new undergraduate offshore wind course at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
- Sustaining the growth and development of the Offshore Wind Professional Certificate through an Industry Partnership Program and strengthening connections with industry partners to meet their workforce development goals.
The Offshore Wind Certificate Program partners closely with the offshore wind industry in developing and delivering its curriculum offerings. Guest instructors and lecturers from Mayflower, Vineyard Wind, Avangrid Renewables, the Wind Technology Testing Center, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and dozens of other firms and organizations give certificate students access to networking opportunities and direct industry exposure that prepares them for employment in a broad range of offshore wind roles.
“With several major offshore wind projects in various stages of approval and construction, it is crucial we have a qualified, well-trained, and diverse homegrown workforce that is ready to enter the industry,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “The Offshore Wind Works Program, coupled with other efforts like the FORWARD Act, will support the Commonwealth in developing a workforce capable of contributing to the industry.”