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Cultivating Tomorrow’s Water Power Professionals: DOE and NREL Launch STEM Hydropower and Marine Renewable Energy Portals

August 3, 2020

Water power technologies are expanding their footprint in the U.S. energy mix. These reliable and resilient sources of energy are poised to play a significant role in our energy demands now and in the years to come. Continuing this trajectory of growth, however, requires new talent and innovation.

The reality is that tomorrow’s water power workforce begins with today’s students.

As part of the effort to recruit the best and brightest to the water power workforce, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) launched the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education portals for water power technologies.

Educate Early and Often

Photo of two people wearing hardhats, safety vests, and sunglasses on a boat. A third person is adjusting a cable in the background.

Picture yourself here! Check out NREL and DOE’s STEM Hydropower and Marine Renewable Energy Portals—they can lead you on the path to an exciting career in water power. Photo by Mike Morrow, U.S. Department of Energy

Water power is a flourishing segment of the renewable energy industry. However, there are not enough workers to fill the open jobs. To continue to spur innovation and growth in these exciting technology areas, the industry needs to inspire the next generation of hydropower and marine energy workers.

Offering a vast collection of open-source resources for both students and educators, the STEM Hydropower Portal and the STEM Marine Renewable Energy Portal can support young people in their explorations of these industries.

The portals will help educators and students better understand water power technologies and their potential, as well as introduce them to exciting career opportunities within these sectors.

The portals now offer a variety of features, such as:

  • Workforce Data and Analysis: Explore workforce and job-related data and analysis
  • Day-in-the-Life Profiles: Learn what it takes to succeed in the world of water power
  • Prizes and Competitions: Accept the challenge to develop tomorrow’s water power technologies
  • Water Power Site Tours: Discover locations of power-generation sites via all-ages field trips to museums and/or educational facilities.

Coming Soon to a Portal Near You

The portals are a work in progress. Though they are now live, the collection of exciting resources featured on the portals will continue to grow.

The Workforce Data and Analysis section features information on upcoming summits, workshops, and events, as well as the advisory committees formed and managed by NREL. These committees will aid water power researchers in identifying the gaps between current educational curricula and the knowledge and skill sets required for entry-level positions in water power.

The Resources section will highlight career pathways in the industry and will feature a variety of training and educational materials, which will be expanded in the near future. Currently showcased on the webpage are "Day in the Life" professional profiles to give would-be industry workers a glimpse into their possible future careers.

Through a series of challenges, WPTO incentivizes the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to introduce, expand, and evolve what is possible for the hydropower and marine energy industries. The Prizes and Competitions section of the portal contains information about how to step up to the plate and compete in open prizes, including the Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, the Fish Protection Prize, and the I AM Hydro Prize.

The portal will even feature resources to help would-be water-power warriors get their feet wet and observe operations firsthand on Water Power Site Tours.

Explore what the future might hold for you with a career in water power. Visit the STEM Hydropower and Marine Renewable Energy Portals today and learn more.