Offshore Wind Innovation at the Intersection of Industry and Academia: Attentive Energy Two Project, Awarded Offshore Wind Contract in New Jersey, to Partner with Rutgers University on the Offshore Wind Connect Program 

By Oriana Holmes-Price, Attentive Energy’s External Affairs Coordinator and Rutgers University-Camden Alumna and Graduate Student 

February 7, 2024

Attentive Energy Two team receiving a presentation from Dr. Onur Bilgen, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and his students, with Attentive Energy team member and Rutgers Alumna, Oriana Holmes-Price, and Damian Bednarz, Managing Director of Attentive Energy. 

The collaboration between industry and academia has produced remarkable advancements in clean energy, fostering innovation within the renewable energy sector and catalyzing economic growth for communities located near renewable projects. The Attentive Energy Two (AE2) team recently had the opportunity to tour several departments at Rutgers University’s Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering, the interdisciplinary facility designed to anchor the School of Engineering on the Busch campus as well as the School of Environmental and Biological Science’s Marine and Coastal Science Building on Cook Campus, which is home to the Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership (RUCOOL). These departments serve as a gateway for the engineering and scientific communities, industry partners, and the public.  

The site visit was well-timed as Attentive Energy has recently been awarded a contract by New Jersey to deliver 1.34 GW of renewable energy into the New Jersey grid, demonstrating its commitment to the state’s mission of achieving a 100% clean energy economy by 2035. As part of the award, AE2 commits $2 million to an initiative with Rutgers University called Offshore Wind Connect: Rutgers STEM Workforce Early Career Pathways. The investment focuses on student/faculty training, internships, and access programs, emphasizing environmental and STEM education. Initiatives range across campuses and comprise more than 40 faculty member and will include curriculum development, a Certification in Wind Energy, student research internships, and an industry-recognized certificate program for workforce/retraining. The support extends to programs at the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences and School of Engineering, creating pathways for New Jersey youth to enter the offshore wind industry.

An additional $8 million will support environmental research, monitoring and innovation surrounding pressing environmental and fisheries issues associated with this growing industry. This initiative is called Offshore Wind Connect: Rutgers Regional Collaboration and Conservation Focused Research.   

Rutgers University is well positioned to establish the collaborative ecosystem and knowledge-sharing needed to foster the growth of a wind-based economy in New Jersey. The largest university system in the state of New Jersey and a highly ranked public research institution, Rutgers University prides itself on crafting a community centered around exploring new knowledge, striving for academic excellence, and fostering student success that supports the common good. This was on display during our site visit as we met with students, professors, and school Deans to learn about new and innovative technologies advancing the clean energy transition and contributing to New Jersey’s newest clean energy industry, offshore wind. 

During the tour, we heard directly from faculty and students who detailed their passion for exploring novel technologies. Student projects included preparing for national collegiate clean energy competitions by printing and testing a variety of 3D wind turbine components, designing 3D printed testing models for undersea infrastructure monitoring, and thinking creatively on how to use Artificial Intelligence to support new industries, such as offshore wind, in being more efficient and robust in operations management. 

Our team was particularly impressed by students at RUCOOL who are working on underwater “gliders” to track ocean water quality along the New Jersey coast and to monitor marine mammal activity. In addition, the leading-edge work by students in the Smart Systems Laboratory and the Renewable and Industrial Analytics Lab may bring innovative commercial solutions to new markets.  

The focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership was reinforced in a roundtable conversation led by Prabhas V. Moghe, the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rutgers.   

As an Alumna, receiving both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rutgers University-Camden, the values instilled in the student body and across this institution has enabled me to explore beyond the boundaries of the classroom, working closely with faculty, administrators, and student organizations to help shape my world view and build my own career pathway. Rutgers University positioned me to move from an intern during my final semester of undergrad to a coordinator role post-graduation with the Attentive Energy team. This allowed me to experience the growth of a new local industry and directly leading on innovative partnerships to maximize community participation. The future of offshore wind can be invigorated by the pioneering spirit of academic communities.    

It is institutions like Rutgers University that serve as fantastic networks to enable students with unique opportunities to partner with industry, local community, public officials, federal and state agencies, or nonprofit organizations to become leaders and transform society for the common good.