Attentive Energy Reflects on Successful New Jersey Student Days

By Favio Germán, Community Engagement Manager

June 8, 2023

Attentive Energy, along with MRV Group, hosted two NJ Student Days to expose over 250 students from Gloucester and Essex Counties the offshore wind industry and related career pathways. The team was fortunate to partner with Timber Creek Regional High School in Sicklerville and the Newark School of Data Science and Information Technology on creating space for the events and to create an impactful agenda for the days. Through the events, students connected directly with Attentive Energy team members on their roles in offshore wind and how they got there from past experiences.  

Throughout the day, students had the opportunity to:

  1. Pilot a virtual vessel through an offshore wind farm in a bridge simulator
  2. Get a glimpse into the job of a Wind Turbine Technician by climbing up wind turbines through virtual reality headsets
  3. Learn about the components of offshore wind through a presentation and trivia game
  4. Participate in didactic activities to simulate the transport of offshore wind components throughout the State.

Following a successful program, the team provided the students a survey to gauge their learning throughout the session. Some of the findings include:

  • 75% of the students were not familiar with offshore wind prior to the session
  • 95% of students were able to correctly identify a wind turbine and monopile after the session
  • 70% of students were able to correctly identify onshore substations after the session
  • Financial gain, safety, interaction with new technology, the opportunity to be creative, and having fun are among the most common things that youth are looking for in a career (see the Word Cloud below for a visual of the exercise).

The students’ favorite activity was overwhelmingly the virtual reality exercise as it gave them a chance to experience, ‘up close’, the scale of the industry – both by navigating a vessel in a wind farm and scaling a turbine. The primary takeaway from the New Jersey Student Days is that hands-on learning is critical for this new industry and that real world exposure leaves a very lasting impression on the student and creates long-term familiarity with the content and opportunity. This takeaway runs parallel with our learnings from our NYC Student Day, hosted in 2022.

Here’s what else we learned:

  • Virtual reality is an exciting way to teach the abstract concepts of offshore wind: During our engagement at the New Jersey Student Days, Attentive Energy learned, and witnessed first-hand how engaged the youth were with the use of VR technology. Not only were they able to immediately interact with the technology but experiencing the scale of the projects through VR excited them about the potential jobs to come.
  • Representation in the classroom matters: The diversity of the Attentive Energy team and MRV Group helped foster genuine connections with the students and provided them points of reference to what a professional in the industry can look like.
  • Capacity building for teachers is critical: The success of the Student Days was based on the buy-in from the teachers that helped facilitate the sessions. Not only did teachers act as trusted messengers to the information shared by the team, but by exposing them to the topics, teachers can then take the learnings into the classroom and make real-life connections to offshore wind for the students.

The Attentive Energy team would like to extend a massive thank you to MRV Group, Timber Creek High School, and the Newark School for Data Science and Information Technology for their partnership in bringing students closer to the offshore wind industry. NJ Student Day affirmed young people are interested in fighting climate change but are lacking the proper avenues and tools to participate in positive action. The prioritization of early K-12 engagement in offshore wind is paramount to forging a new industry, strengthening our communities, creating that future workforce, and achieving our shared climate and economic goals. Our team looks forward to continued engagement with the youth community on offshore wind careers and ensuring all communities, particularly those that have been historically excluded, are present for offshore wind’s multi-decade opportunity.