Rutgers Launches Collaborative to Harness University Expertise to Support Offshore Wind Energy Development

wind turbine
wind turbine

Rutgers has launched the Offshore Wind Collaborative to coordinate and build expertise in offshore wind research across the university community and to support workforce development pathways to employment in this industry.

Leading the establishment of the collaborative is Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, director of the Office of Resource and Economic Development at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, along with Josh Kohut, professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, School of Environmental Biological Sciences, and Wade Trappe, professor and Associate Dean for Academics, School of Engineering.

More than 40 faculty members from across Rutgers’s campuses in New Brunswick, Camden and Newark have committed to the Offshore Wind Collaborative, bringing a wide range of disciplines and expertise including marine sciences, environmental science, engineering, materials science, supply-chain, and public policy, as well as economics, psychology and other social sciences. Rutgers is well positioned to establish the collaborative environment and knowledge-sharing needed to foster the growth of a wind-based economy in New Jersey.

New Jersey is poised to be a strong player in the emerging sector in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. The state’s Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, approved in 2020, guides the establishment of the offshore wind industry to benefit New Jersey residents. It is a core strategy of the state’s Energy Master Plan, which identifies the most ambitious and cost-effective ways of reaching 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Wind Institute awarded the Rutgers OffShore Wind Collaborative a one-year, $125,000 grant as part of the University Initiatives to Advance Offshore Wind program. Brennan-Tonetta, Trappe and Kohut serve as co-investigators University Initiatives program, which includes three projects:

  • Offshore Wind Energy Symposium, a free event on Jan. 12 that will bring together industry, government and academic leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities, as well as build community engagement in offshore wind. A summary report based on information from the symposium will be used by NJEDA to develop recommendations on the government’s role in development of the offshore wind sector.
  • Educational Initiatives for a Resilient Offshore Wind Economy in New Jersey, will develop and deliver modular curricula across various technical, business, environmental, engineering and policy topics related to offshore wind. The modules will be designed to be integrated into a wide range of current Rutgers courses and for presentation as standalone programs.
  • Community Events and Shared Learning opportunities via three in-person community-building events at Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-New Brunswick, with the primary goal of exploring opportunities in the offshore wind sector.

NJEDA also provided a $282,000 grant to Rutgers to create the New Jersey Wind Institute Fellowship Program to support student research in topics that further the growth of offshore wind as well as build student and faculty advisor expertise in offshore wind research and innovation in the state. Chelsie Riche, assistant director for student success and experiential education, Office of Academic Affairs, serves as the principal investigator for the Rutgers Fellowship Program.

Rutgers is one of four higher education institutions in the state, including Rowan University, Montclair State University and New Jersey Institute of Technology, to offer its undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to conduct paid, independent research related to offshore wind. Open to students across all fields of study, the yearlong fellowship program was launched in Fall 2022 and includes 13 undergraduate and graduate student fellows at Rutgers.

Learn more about the Offshore Wind Collaborative and the Wind Institute Fellowship Program.

This article was published by the SEBS/NJAES Newsroom on December 20, 2022.