Delaware State University will prepare students for jobs in the renewable energy industry with its new Renewable Energy Education Center.
On Monday, the university hosted a ribbon cutting for the center, which will receive a total of $720,000 from Exelon and Delmarva Power over the course of four years. It’s the first time the university has received funding dedicated to renewable energy.
“When you look at what goes on in other universities, especially Del. Tech, they have a viable proactive program in workforce development, primarily training installers,” said William Pickrum CPPO project manager at the university.
“Very few in the region focus on the policy and objectives. Someone has to manage all this, when you consider renewable energy is the second fastest growing industry in this country, behind the medical fields. This is an opportunity to get our students into this relatively new industry.”
A $180,000 Energy Workforce Development grant is the first part of the funding, which supported the launch of the center, located in the Luna I. Mishoe Science Center on DSU’s Dover campus.
The university said the center will increase access to clean energy, and help Delaware achieve its goal of getting 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
The new center, which will initially be open to undergraduates majoring in the physical sciences, will provide renewable energy education focused on job-preparedness, promote research in the field and offer certificate programs and credentialing services in renewable energy.
“These are jobs for the future, not jobs of yesterday or today—jobs of the future,” Pickrum said.
Gary Stockbridge, region president of Delmarva Power, said infrastructure built around solar, wind and other innovative technology is increasing, and there a new jobs available in the industry that will need to be filled by qualified candidates. Not only are there jobs in installation, but also in manufacturing and other environmental areas, he said.
The new center will connect the industry to students, and Delmarva’s parent company Exelon will hopefully hire students graduating from the university, Stockbridge said.
“We’ve talked across state about concepts of career pathways, trying to start earlier and earlier in education and give kids exposure to work based experience,” he said. “This is all a part of that, so as they get older they can think, ‘What do I want to do when I grow up?’ We’re meeting the needs we have in the future.”
U.S Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, who has criticized President Donald Trump’s administration’s environmental stances, also was in attendance during the ribbon cutting. He said the grant awarded to Delaware State University, allows them to be a leader in job creation, while promoting a healthy environment.
“My hope is one of the lessons the new administration in Washington will learn is in last 47 years we’ve had the Clean Air Act is we’ve grown the economy, we’ve grown gross domestic product and grown a lot of jobs. We’ve also cleaned up our air and cleaned up our water,” Carper said. “It’s a falsehood you have to choose between clean air and water and job creation—that’s nonsense. We have both. This investment with Delaware State University will help enable us have both clean air, clean water, a cleaner environment and also a more skill workforce and job creation.”