In a move that will help keep New Jersey ahead of the curve in the offshore wind industry — and in the number of young people who are properly trained to work in it — the board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Wednesday expanded a program to help the state succeed in both areas.
The Wind Institute Fellowship Program offers students at selected New Jersey public and private universities paid research fellowships to prepare them for careers in the offshore wind industry. Opportunities are available for undergraduate and graduate students.
In its first year, which began in October 2022, the Wind Institute Fellowship Program is supporting 26 student researchers across Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University – New Brunswick.
The approval to expand the program will enable students that attend these four schools plus Stockton University and selected New Jersey private research universities to apply to their home institution for the Wind Institute Fellowship and receive up to $30,000 in academic years 2023-24 and 2024-25 for offshore wind research.
EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said it truly is a win-win.
“As the offshore wind industry builds momentum in New Jersey, it’s essential that we foster the growth of our pipeline of qualified, talented individuals equipped with relevant skills,” he said. “This will not only prepare students for exciting career opportunities, but it will help our workforce keep pace with the needs of the industry.
“An investment in today’s students is an investment in tomorrow’s economy, and this fellowship program will ultimately help to position New Jersey as a global leader in offshore wind, while creating jobs and bringing us closer to achieving Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy goals.”
The fellowships will take place through the fall, spring and summer semesters and run between 25 and 40 weeks depending on each school’s calendar. Juniors and seniors are eligible for $15,000 undergraduate awards, while graduate and doctoral students can apply for $30,000 awards.
All accepted fellows also will receive $1,000 for related expenses, such as travel to conferences and materials. Each participating school can receive up to four fellowships, with at least one undergraduate and graduate representative. Rutgers can earn 12 fellowships, including at least three undergraduate and three graduate fellows.
The EDA will provide participating schools with funding for administration and other related expenses, while faculty advisers will receive a $1,000 honorarium for their involvement. Fellows will be able to attend a series of cohort meetings hosted by the EDA during the academic year to support peer learning and to gain a comprehensive understanding of the offshore wind industry.
Participating universities will run their application processes in the spring. Accepted fellows will begin in the summer or fall semesters.
EDA Vice President of Offshore Wind Jen Becker said the program will have impact.
“New Jersey’s renowned higher education institutions are ideal for cultivating a workforce poised to support the state’s rapidly advancing offshore wind sector,” she said. “This fellowship program will create opportunities for students while helping us develop a robust, diverse and local workforce for the offshore wind industry.”
And, hopefully, help spur a greater clean energy economy, said Jane Cohen, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy.
“Wind energy is a major component of the Murphy administration’s plan for a 100% clean energy economy and is expected to drive billions in economic benefits,” she said. “By investing in those students who come to or stay in New Jersey for higher education, we can create accessible pathways for thousands of local jobs to be filled by hard-working New Jerseyans and shape a sustainable tomorrow.”