Twenty-one middle school students built, learned how to operate and took home their own small unmanned aircraft at a camp taught by pilots and engineers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute the week of June 11-15.
The camp, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, uses unmanned aircraft to encourage kids to pursue science, technology, engineering and math-related education and careers.
Pilots and engineers from UAF’s Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration instructed the students through a combination of engineering, flying and interacting with simulators. The students spent the week building their own unmanned aircraft, piece by piece, and flying them. They listened to presentations from industry guest speakers and learned about topics like no-fly zones and the importance of registration.
The goal was for kids to leave with technical skills and a well-rounded knowledge of not only the UAS industry but also FAA safety rules and other requirements.
The Maritime Administration (MARAD) was pleased to participate in the National Maritime Workforce Conference held in Texas earlier this month.
The conference brought together representatives from academia and industry professionals from across the country to focus on how to enhance and expand maritime, marine technology and port management workforce training at 2-year colleges. Representatives from technical and community colleges participated with MARAD alongside state maritime academies, universities, shipyards, port authorities and other maritime industry partners.
MARAD staff reported on the status of the United States Merchant Marine as well as offering an update on the latest news from the Maritime Administration. They also encouraged interested stakeholders to submit their comments on the docket in response to the Request for Comments on the Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE) application process, which was recently published in the Federal Register. MARAD is seeking comment on the proposed applicant guide; and, after review of the comments received, will publish a further Federal Register notice setting out the application process and requesting submission of applications for designation as a CoE.
The CoE designation program was established by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Qualified training institutions seeking to be designated as a CoE will be required to apply to MARAD. MARAD may then enter into a cooperative agreement with a designated CoE to provide federal support, as outlined in the Federal Register notice, for the CoE’s maritime workforce training and education efforts. These training and education programs will open up greater career opportunities in the United States’ maritime industry, including providing opportunities for academic credit for prior military service or other related experience.
The conference further included panel discussions on innovative workforce programs and how colleges can align themselves with the maritime industry.
Please visit www.marad.dot.gov for further information on the work of the Maritime Administration and how it is supporting improvements to workforce training across the maritime industry in the United States.
(Alaska had a delegation of ten in attendance representing the University of Alaska, Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development Alaska Vocational Technical Center, Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium, and Vigor Alaska.)
ANCHORAGE, AK—The University of Alaska’s community and technical colleges and campuses celebrated National Maritime Day on May 22, a tradition dating back to 1933 that recognizes one of Alaska and the United States’ most important industries. This year, National Maritime Day coincided with UA’s efforts to obtain a Domestic Maritime Center of Excellence designation, a distinction that would expand its capacity to train domestic maritime workers.
President Donald Trump signed legislation authorizing designation of community and technical college Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence in December 2017. If chosen as a designee, UA could access federal funds towards admitting more students, training faculty and expanding maritime training facilities. This would provide a significant benefit to the university’s ability to increase student success and provide a skilled workforce for Alaska’s maritime industry, which supports more than 70,000 jobs and is the state’s largest private sector employer.
“I’m encouraged by the university’s prospects to receive this important designation,” said Fred Villa, associate vice president of workforce programs. “It’s a great opportunity for the university that would allow us to expand our already successful maritime training opportunities throughout the state.”
UA is well qualified to receive the designation, given its history of providing maritime training and the state of Alaska’s prominent maritime industry. UA has collaborated with maritime industry representatives, state agencies, and entities across the state since 2012 on the Fishing, Seafood and Maritime Initiative (FSMI) to assess, develop and deliver training programs, raise awareness and increase research to prepare Alaskans to meet current and emerging workforce, economic and scientific needs. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of maritime-related training classes in Alaska increased sharply with class completion rates growing by 171 percent.
Villa and a University of Alaska delegation will attend the Shared Quarters National Maritime Workforce Conference June 5-6 in Texas, where they hope to learn more about potentially receiving the designation and about opportunities to enhance and expand maritime, marine technology and port management workforce training.
The 2018 federal budget was passed and signed into law in late March. The omnibus bill calls for $65 million in base funding for Sea Grant and $11.5 million in directed funding for aquaculture. That’s an increase of $4 million over last year’s appropriation to Sea Grant.
“It is a testament to the high caliber of the work done by everyone in the Sea Grant network and the impacts we have had on our constituents,” said Jonathan Pennock, director, National Sea Grant College Program.
The White House had proposed eliminating all funding for Sea Grant earlier this year.
When it comes to emerging energy technologies, many remote Alaska communities are on the cutting edge. That was the message from Cordova this spring, where U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski held a field hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which she chairs.
The focus of the hearing was microgrids: self-contained electrical grids, which can operate unconnected to any larger transmission system. They’re a necessity for just about every Alaska community off the road system. Most of the grids are powered by diesel, but more and more communities are trying to cut costs by adding renewables like wind or expanding hydropower.
In the process, the state has become a testing ground for technologies that are increasingly interesting to the rest of the world.