The Algae Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the algae industry, has been awarded a multi-year grant from the Department of Energy to develop a college degree in algal cultivation technologies as well as an aquaculture extension training program.
To support the coordination and implementation of a comprehensive algae-focused curriculum, the Algae Foundation has formed the Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC), a partnership between academic institutions, national research laboratories, and industry leaders. The Consortium will develop novel educational programs to strengthen industry workforce capabilities, by focusing on the skills needed to support the commercialization of algal products.
"We believe this will be the first ever associates degree in algal biology, cultivation and technology," said Ira Levine, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Southern Maine and the P.I. of the grant. "This will help develop the next generation of algae researchers, scientists and engineers whose skills are in great demand from the hundreds of companies developing and deploying algae technology in the U.S. and around the world."
The awarded grant will begin a three-year program, during which the Algae Foundation will establish the ATEC team, design a curriculum for a college degree, develop and publish textbooks, and partner with community or technical colleges to implement the degree. ATEC will also deploy an educational assessment team to evaluate the college courses created for the degree.
"National Renwable Energy Lab is committed to supporting and advancing algal technologies and we are very excited to participate in this project as strong growth in this industry is anticipated, said Cindy Gerk, NREL Project Leader. "We look forward to the success of this project and enabling high value jobs for the workforce of tomorrow."
The Algae Foundation's mission is to promote the power of algae to transform human society and the environment upon which it depends, and to facilitate a future in which algae are a fundamental source of energy, nutrition, products and ecological services for sustainable societies globally.
To accomplish its mission, the Algae Foundation engages in and funds educational outreach, research, development, and other activities; finds and supports the development of future leaders of the algae industry through scholarships, grants and other financial and organizational support; and facilitates communication among private, academic and public sector leaders, and the public generally, to increase broader literacy and awareness of the benefits of algae biomass cultivation and commercialization.