IACMI – The Composites Institute in partnership with Composites One and the Closed Mold Alliance welcomed nearly 100 attendees to the composites training workshop, By Air, By Land, By Sea: Composites Get You There at the Composite Prototyping Center in Plainview, N.Y. on June 11 – 12, 2019. The workshop introduced Long Island-area business owners, technical managers, and composites technicians to composites manufacturing process and materials that are relevant in the marine, wind energy, and automotive sectors.

Composites Get You There was particularly relevant for Long Island’s wind energy-related manufacturing workforce, which is soon to have a major growth surge through the development of offshore wind farms. Currently there are five wind turbines off the coast of Long Island in the South Fork Wind Farm, but the East Coast is planning for a boom in offshore windfarms in the coming years to support the large cities on the Atlantic coast such as New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

New York state is supporting the offshore wind farms through initiatives such as NYSERDA; regionally states such as Delaware, Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts are working together to create federal grant programs for offshore wind jobs training. The Composite Prototyping Center (CPC) on Long Island provides a valuable opportunity for manufacturers to test materials and processes at the facility without disrupting production lines in their own facilities, as well as train their new and existing workforce. “The CPC offers unique equipment to Long Island’s network of manufacturers,” said Lenny Poveromo, executive director at the CPC. “The CPC hosts workforce training initiatives throughout the year, and is glad to be a part of the growing utilization of workforce training for the state.”

In the U.S., current adoption of wind energy is primarily seen in the Midwest. Iowa produces nearly half of its energy from wind. However, the U.S. needs power closer to major cities where it is used because of the aging energy transportation infrastructure. Offshore wind farms provide a viable option for generating power for Atlantic cities through large turbines – measuring an excess of 120 meters. Through offshore wind farms, NYSERDA is supporting the development of 9,000 megawatts of offshore energy by 2035, which will provide enough power for 6 million homes.

In addition to providing a renewable power source, the offshore wind market supports the growing number of available composites-related manufacturing jobs. Currently, there are more than 120,000 composites jobs, with approximately 28% being in the wind sector. According to American Wind Energy Association’s latest research, by 2050, more than 600,000 jobs are projected to be needed in the composites sector with nearly 168,000 positions in the wind industry.

Workshops such as Composites Get You There are preparing the Long Island workforce for jobs in the composites sector. “More than half of New York’s manufacturing happens here on Long Island,” said Representative Tom Suozzi (NY-03) representing Long Island. “Through our regional taskforce and through supporting initiatives from organizations such as IACMI and the Composites Prototyping Center, we are positioning Long Island to continue to be a leader in manufacturing – not only for the state, but for the entire U.S.”

“Attendees for Composites Get You There were very engaged with our presenters and the Composites One representatives because they are interested in learning more about how composites can positively impact their companies,” said Joannie Harmon Heath, IACMI’s workforce manager. “Companies understand the cost-saving benefit of composites and are looking for ways to integrate the materials into their manufacturing processes. This workshop provided a great opportunity for us to showcase the synergies created through national and regional partnerships leading the way in workforce training.” Presenters and attendees at the workshop ranged from small and medium companies to large companies, such as Magnum Venus Products, Dassault Systèmes, the MTRC, Chomarat, Sika Advanced Resins, and Vectorply.

Since its founding in 2015, IACMI has supported the wind energy sector through its research projects – covering topics such as reducing the cost of manufacturing through adopting novel materials with shorter curing times, and by researching opportunities for adopting thermoplastics in wind blades for recyclability – as well as through internships at NREL and in composites recycling companies. This educational event was one of IACMI’s opportunities to support the critical need skills gap of technicians in the Northeast U.S., which is soon to be home to a large wind energy region.

For more information on future workshops in the IACMI and Composites One Closed Mold Alliance series, visit https://iacmi.org/closed-mold-alliance-workshops/. To learn more about IACMI’s wind technology area through IACMI’s summer Members Meeting, hosted in Denver, Color., home to IACMI’s wind technology area sector, visit iacmi.org/summer2019membersmeeting.