Renewable Energy: Comprehensive Workforce Plan to Shape the U.S. Wind Industry
The Wind Alliance plans to serve as the national platform to establish programs and coordinate existing wind energy resources in an effort to meet the significant wind industry workforce demand of today and the future.
University wind programs do not exist in the U.S. at a level necessary to support predicted workforce demands. In order to have a viable workforce, there must be professors in place to train and supervise the wind instruction of MS, BS and two-year programs. Additionally, in today’s marketplace, advanced wind positions are globally competitive. According to Dr. Carsten Westergaard, Global Technology Director for Vestas Technology R&D and member of The Wind Alliance, multi-national companies located in the U.S. hire wind PhDs from overseas to fill current workforce needs. The critical deficit of wind PhDs in the U.S. must be addressed.
A few universities have well-defined wind energy programs, but most programs are in their infancy and are scattered throughout the U.S. Only one institution, Texas Tech University, graduates PhDs in wind science and engineering. According to Dr. Andrew Swift, former Director of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech and member of The Wind Alliance, it took approximately five years and $25 million to develop that program.
The Wind Alliance’s National Education Platform
The Wind Alliance members propose a platform where all elements of the wind industry anchor and operate together in a coordinated effort which will accelerated graduation of wind PhDs and widespread university wind centers.
The Platform would have the ability to create opportunities and administer national and international programs including:
• A web-based university portal offering full credit transfer and activities leading to the “whole student” concept (helping solve the PhD deficit);
• A university inventory system (helping solve the PhD deficit);
• A cross-training program (to encourage displaced jobs at NASA, the auto industry and others to enter the wind industry);
• National and international internships and reciprocal exchange programs as well as continuing education programs
• Co-op opportunities, publications and seminars, social networks, and competitions
• An out-of-use equipment program;
• An industry driven scholarship program;
• A wind for schools program.
The Platform would be the mechanism to synergize the industry.
The Wind Alliance, an established non-profit organization focusing solely on collaborative projects, is positioned to serve as the neutral, national Platform to coordinate, collaborate, communicate and facilitate the interests of all the stakeholders in the industry—students, academia, industry, public organizations and international laboratories.
The Wind Alliance’s Vision and Priorities for Workforce Development
According to Dr. Patrick Barry Butler, Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa and member of The Wind Alliance, the most efficient solution to the immediate PhD deficit is to create a web-based “virtual university” portal that combines the existing resources to create critical mass, economies of scale and momentum. Therefore, the first priority in the Alliance’s workforce vision is to accelerate graduation of wind PhDs to provide foundation for the wind workforce infrastructure. The Alliance’s Platform can coordinate the resources of the existing 205 wind programs in the U.S. to expedite the graduation of PhDs.
The second priority is to build new university wind centers and programs around the graduated, dispersed wind PhDs. This will provide a pool of professors for a network of national university wind programs. The Wind Alliance Platform would allocate funds to consortium universities that collaborate with the Platform to develop dynamic wind centers and degree programs.
The third priority will be to develop the academic infrastructure needed beginning with kindergarten and extending through the masters and specialty programs (including cross-training and continuing education). These programs will be implemented to support industry demand and will be facilitated by The Wind Alliance.
The fourth and ultimate priority, which is the natural outgrowth of the three previous priorities, is to leverage that hard-won academic infrastructure to promote a robust wind industry. Funding would be provided to industry to harvest workforce and technology through collaborative academic institutions to engage faculty, catalyze new programs, attract students and garner collaborative research opportunities for next generation wind technology.
Conference – Open to the Public
If interested in continuing a discussion on this plan, register for The Wind Alliance’s upcoming conference in Albuquerque, NM on November 3-4, 2010. This conference includes prominent speakers, a guided tour of Sandia Lab and an opportunity to help refine critical solutions for our industry. The conference will feature a unique networking dinner at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, complete with cocktails and a Latin trio for entertainment. Please join us. Space is limited. Find a link for registration at www.TheWindAlliance.org.
About The Wind Alliance
The wind industry needs standards and resources that do not currently exist. The Wind Alliance is a national collaboration of over 50 entities in industry, academia and the public sector. We are working together to solve unsolved problems within the areas of workforce, technology and infrastructure. We are designing and implementing precompetitive solutions to catapult the industry forward. As our unique organization focuses on project development and execution (we do not lobby or attempt to influence policy), we are complementary to AWEA and other wind organization.
For more information, see www.TheWindAlliance.org or call us at 713-600-9994.
- Contact Information
- Claire E. Henkhaus
- Associate Director
- The Wind Alliance
- Contact via E-mail
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