Bristol CC Opens First One-Stop Shop for Offshore Wind and Maritime Safety Training

Angela Johnston, Director of Business Solutions & Partnerships, Bristol Community College

A brand-new, world-class training facility for the offshore wind industry is opening for business in New Bedford this spring! The National Offshore Wind Institute will offer four training modules delivered by the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) this inaugural season: Basic Safety Training, Basic Technical Training, Advanced Rescue Training, and Enhanced First Aid. The Global Wind Organisation is a non-profit organization of industry members that has developed a set of standards for health and safety regulations in the offshore wind industry. All the courses will be delivered by GWO-certified experts.

The origins of the National Offshore Wind Institute, or “NOWI,” lie in the 2018 Massachusetts Offshore Wind Workforce Assessment, which identified the need for an established offshore wind training facility that could prepare workers for the rapidly growing offshore wind industry. The study was conducted by Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and MassCEC, and included input from other local organizations and institutions; it was funded by MassCEC and Bristol CC. Using the study’s findings, Bristol CC established the National Offshore Wind Institute (NOWI). NOWI’s purpose is to build the local offshore wind workforce through the development of a one-stop shop training institute. 

Bristol CC recognized the enormity of the task of constructing a state-of-the-art offshore wind and maritime training institute -- as well as building the assets to manage such a unique training center -- but Bristol’s leadership team embraced the challenge. They quickly embarked on the journey to find a central location, viewing 18 sites in the City of New Bedford. After many months, the perfect property was identified right downtown at 198 Herman Melville Boulevard. The site of a former seafood packaging plant, it is located close to State Pier and the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, home to Vineyard’s Wind’s first construction and deployment site. 

MassCEC supported Bristol’s NOWI development efforts with multiple Offshore Wind Workforce and Training grants over multiple years. These grants helped offset some of the critical costs to build the facility, purchase equipment, develop curriculum, and hire staff and trainers. MassCEC’s support and funding allowed Bristol and their key partner, Maersk Training, to establish a training institute informed by the needs of the offshore wind industry. The specialized construction project was no small feat. It faced the additional challenge of being sited in a Designated Port Area (DPA), which required special state permitting in addition to the permitting at the municipal level. D.F. Pray was the General Contractor.

Unique Facilities

NOWI has some very cool training facilities and equipment, including a Working-at-Heights simulator that was custom-built for GWO training and the NOWI specifically; an above-ground, deep-water training tank with cranes; and a crew transfer vessel to offer sea survival training. NOWI has a lab that was specifically built to teach technicians to repair the blades of offshore wind turbines and classrooms dedicated to industry-led, proprietary trainings. The technical training areas have been designed to offer Basic Technical Training and Bolt Tightening courses and are equipped with the newest simulators to meet the electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic needs of the training.  
 

Man hanging in harness in training facility
NOWI instructor demonstrates working at height
Woman in NOWI shirt demonstrates first aid on dummy
NOWI trainer teaches enhanced first aid

In response to increasing industry demand, NOWI will soon offer Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET), using NOWI’s indoor deep-water training tank. This training became a priority once the industry determined that helicopter transportation made economic sense due to the long travel times to transfer crews to the construction sites by ship. 

In addition to the unique simulators and specialized training rooms, NOWI features a commercial kitchen and other amenities to ensure that staff and participants can function at their best during training. 

An expert team of GWO-certified trainers are eager to cultivate the next generation of industry leaders at NOWI’s full-service training institute! Stay informed about NOWI at https://nowi.org/index.html. For any questions, please email nowi@bristolcc.edu

“Wind Works for You” Outreach Campaign

While NOWI was under construction, Bristol and NOWI responded to MassCEC’s Offshore Wind “Access to Opportunity” grant program, which focused on expanding workforce opportunities for underserved populations. Supported by MassCEC, Bristol’s “Wind Works for You” campaign was designed to raise awareness of career opportunities and training opportunities in offshore wind, particularly in the New Bedford community. The goal was to provide early career awareness to local youth and others interested in the growing OSW industry. In addition, the program included walking tours of the new infrastructure that supports construction of the Vineyard Wind project, including MassCEC’s New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. Wind Works for You is a fun, interactive campaign featuring TikTok, Instagram, giveaways, dancing, and pop-up informational sites. 

After one year, Bristol recognized the need for continued outreach and education, and requested additional funding through MassCEC’s Offshore Wind Works program for a second phase of Wind Works for You. As of February 2024, the talented outreach teams are planning the 2024 schedule to also feature a new tool – the Energy Career Navigator app – designed to direct young adults and students to explore their career options by matching individuals’ interests and skills with potential careers in the offshore wind industry. The Wind Works for You campaign will be popping up with partners at events and collaborating with youth organizations and educational institutions throughout 2024. Follow along at https://windworksforyou.com/ for events and updates.