Florida Energy Workforce Consortium Meets at IRSC

Fort Pierce – Tuesday, January 24, 2023: Representatives from energy companies from across Florida gathered at Indian River State College (IRSC) on Thursday, January 19 to discuss, among other things, ways the industry can partner with educators to empower students with job-ready skills. needs of your workforce.

The meeting, held at the Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, was the first of 2023 for the Florida Energy Workforce Consortium (FEWC), a group of energy and energy-related companies and educational institutions that came together to inform Floridians about stable, rewarding careers in the energy industry.

“The Florida Energy Workforce Consortium was delighted to be at IRSC, where they have outstanding programs to support the energy sector,” said FEWC President Maureen Wilt. “We were happy to be received by the College and to spend the day here.

The members of the consortium were received by the president of the IRSC, Dr. Timothy Moore, who explained the mission of the college. “We talked about three things: mission, students, and community,” Moore said. “Our mission is to provide the highest quality education at the lowest price with the most life-changing attributes for our students. And when we change the student, we change the community.”

About 77% of IRSC graduates remain in the university’s four-county service area, while 92% of graduates remain in-state, Moore said. “So every dollar spent (on students) is a dollar or more in the community,” she said. “I’m not looking for a transaction; I want a society to change lives.” Moore said one such partnership turned a $10 million leadership gift from a Palm Beach County businessman, and support from the IRSC Foundation, into the new Indiantown High School for workforce education, run by the IRSC in partnership with the district. Martin County School. He said a new building featuring state-of-the-art classrooms and labs is currently under construction and will open for ninth and 10th grade students in August.

“We are here to put the workforce back into the economy to build wealth, to change our society, to change who we are as Americans,” Moore said. “We are going to partner with industries to have them located on our campuses because that is how we are going to change the face of higher education.”

Next, a group of home-schooled students demonstrated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects they completed as members of FIRST, a global robotics community that prepares youth for future jobs in the STEM industries. The students operated a robot built with Legos that they programmed to perform specific tasks. For more information about FIRST, visit http://www.firstinspires.org

Following a FEWC business meeting, Bill Solomon, IRSC Dean of Workforce Education and Advanced Technical Division, took participants on a tour of two areas dedicated to workforce education. The first stop was the Flow Loop, a computer-controlled water flow system used in nuclear reactors that provides hands-on training for students in IRSC’s Associate of Science Degree in Electrical Power Technology program and continuing education for already working technicians. in the energy sector.

Next up was a stop at the Alternative Energy Lab where approximately two dozen students ages 9-12 from Fairlawn Elementary School K-5 participated in a STEM camp. Students built solar-powered cars and then teamed up to race each other outdoors.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to be exposed to college,” said Anna Babcock, who teaches gifted and high-achieving students at Fairlawn Elementary School. “And exposing our children to solar energy and all the different energies. It’s good to be back on campus. And this is a great addition to our STEM program at Fairlawn.”

Teacher Renee Hawkins agreed. “What an incredible opportunity for students to interact with the university,” she said. “We are super grateful that they included us.” Babcock and Hawkins are finalists for Teacher of the Year in St. Lucie County.

After a lunch break and another business meeting, Scott Bishop, Lakeland Electric’s Manager of Emerging Technologies, gave a talk on the changing needs of utilities and ways to reach those who will one day represent a new generation. of workers in the energy industry.

Next up was a panel discussion hosted by Solomon; Susan Desjarlais, Project Manager – Development with NEXTera ENERGY, Florida Power & Light; Erin Cosentino, Coordinator of the IRSC Workforce Education Program; and Deborah Dorn, IRSC Workforce Education Lab Technician. The group answered questions and discussed the three tracks of the IRSC Electric Power Technology Program: Instrumentation and Control and Electrical (ICE) specialization; Mechanic; and Radiological Protection.

The day ended with breakout sessions in which participants discussed how FEWC member organizations can develop and sustain student engagement, with scholarships as a focus.

About the Florida Energy Workforce Consortium
The Florida Energy Workforce Consortium provides a forum for energy stakeholders to share best practices, discuss workforce trends, and work together to support a sustainable, diverse, and skilled workforce to meet the needs of the energy industry in Florida. Semi-annual member meetings feature panel discussions, updates from the Center for Energy Workforce Development and the Department of Education, highlights of statewide energy education programs, and highlights of partnerships between community organizations and energy industry partners.

Corporate members of the consortium include the Florida Natural Gas Association, Florida Municipal Electric Association, Duke Energy, Florida Power and Light, Florida Public Utilities, Lakeland Electric, Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, Tampa Electric Company, Florida Solar Energy Center, DC Jaeger, Pike Corporation, Local Union 234 Jacksonville, Bluegrass Education Technologies, SECO Energy, and Reedy Creek Improvement District.

In addition to Indian River State College, educational members include Lake Sumter State College, Palm Beach State College, and Fort Myers Technical College. For more information about the Consortium, please email [email protected]