The National Science Foundation has awarded Florida Keys Community College an $894,321 grant to create a engineering program that will lead to an associate’s degree, the college said in a prepared statement Thursday.
With the grant, the college will develop an associate’s program in engineering technology with an alternative-energy technician track that will focus on career paths in solar, wind and ocean power technology. The new program is planned to launch in August 2017.
With this NSF grant, FKCC can train the 21st Century workforce for alternative energy and conduct research that will foster the future of energy production,” said Patrick Rice, the college’s chief science and research officer who was mostly responsible for getting the grant.
The college will repurpose its 40-foot-deep lagoon, originally used to train diving students, as the hub for alternative energy research on its Stock Island campus. It will be the home of the Tidal Energy Simulation Laboratory. The controlled environment provides an ideal location for researchers to work with students to test prototype hydropower devices as well as compare wind and solar technologies. Students in the college’s marine engineering program will craft a fiberglass vessel from which the engineering students will conduct research in waters surrounding the college.
The college will work with Hydrokinetic Energy Corp., a company that engineers hydrokinetic turbines for the production of electric energy. The list of collaborators in the new program also includes Benson Green Technology, Sea Air Land Technologies of Marathon and Keys Energy Services, as well as larger entities like Florida Atlantic University’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center.