The inaugural KidWind Offshore Wind Academy was hosted at Massachusetts Maritime Academy from July 24-29th, 2022. Students arrived on campus on a hot, sticky Sunday afternoon and worked and played hard until Friday afternoon learning about offshore wind and the multitude of jobs and career pathways available in the Blue Economy. This program is funded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Expanding Access to Opportunity in Offshore Wind Workforce program.
Participants included 20 students and two high school science teachers from across the Commonwealth. Students stayed in the dorms, ate in the mess hall and learned about wind energy principles and trust- building skills while working with teammates on their KidWind projects. According to one participant, “This program strongly enriched my knowledge of climate change, career pathways, and wind energy. I recommend it to anyone who is curious about the sciences behind renewable energy, specifically wind power, and their place within the field.”
Starting with basic safety of using utility knives and hot glue, students quickly moved on to how to use multimeters and engineer ideas from a vision to an actual floating turbine. Wrangling with glue guns, PVC, balsa wood, fishing line and corks, student teams created wind turbines that generated electricity and, in many cases, also floated. Initial testing of the flotation platforms in the outdoor tank equipped with four big fans was particularly exciting as platforms tipped over, blades flew off, things that needed to be modified and retested became clear. This is all part of the Engineering Design process and it was a lot of work, but the participants did an amazing job.
Field trips enabled students to see firsthand some of the wind related careers that exist right here in Massachusetts. Mass Tank in Middleboro exposed the students to steel rolling and welding. A morning at the Wind Technology Testing Center wind turbine blade testing facility allowed students to see the Haliade X blade. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution filled a whole day with learning about robotics, squid, shark and marine mammal science and how the hosts from each lab found their way into their respective fields.
VinciVR shared the virtual reality experience of being on a crew transfer vessel, making the transition from the vessel to the wind turbine as well as being up inside the wind turbine and enjoying the view from the top out over the ocean. Greg Watson of the Schumacher Institute spoke about a global grid and energy equity. Dana Rebeiro from Vineyard Wind and Kelsey Perry from Mayflower Wind, two dynamic women currently in the offshore wind industry, talked about their pathways into the sector and engaged with the participants about their turbine designs.
The leadership team is Stephanie Madsen, Sustainability Director at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Max Dilthey, Offshore Wind instructor from University of Massachusetts Amherst Clean Energy Cooperative Extension, John Madsen, Interim Chair of the Geo Sciences Department and Professor at University of Delaware, Michael Ortiz, Dean of Enrollment Management & Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Megan Amsler, Executive Director of Self-Reliance.
The KidWind Academy will be held July 23-28, 2023. To learn more, go to kidwindacademy.org.