RISE, Vineyard Wind sponsor URI Energy Fellows Program

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 30, 2022 – The University of Rhode Island’s Energy Fellows Program has announced that RISE Engineering and Vineyard Wind have reaffirmed their commitment to the program as sponsors. RISE is sponsoring a summer industry training program for students with a $10,000 donation, and Vineyard Wind’s $2,500 donation will be used to support students’ final presentations.

The Energy Fellows Program was established in 2008 through the URI Cooperative Extension to engage and train students passionate about careers in clean energy by connecting them with industry partners and providing specialized soft skills training. Since it began, over 150 students have completed the program, and 75% have gone on to work full time in the clean energy sector. 

“We solicited sponsorship for our summer program and we’re happy to get the highest tier sponsorship from RISE Engineering and a ‘Megawatt’ sponsorship from Vineyard Wind,” said Kaylyn Keane, Energy Fellows program coordinator. 

Vineyard Wind has been a program sponsor since 2020 and this is the first year that RISE is sponsoring at the top tier level. The sponsorships mean both companies will participate in the summer industry training series and be featured in printed and promotional materials.

RISE Director of Engineering J.P. Vandeputte, a 2008 URI graduate, immediately recognized value of the program based on his entry into the job market with much less energy-related experience than URI’s Energy Fellows. 

“When I first came on board (at RISE), I didn’t have a great background in energy, so I had to do a lot of self-learning,” he said. “Being able to open students’ eyes and showing them the possibility of where they might be able to work and what they might be able to pursue in the future is extremely beneficial.” 

Keane is grateful for the support from RISE. “They’ve been a really wonderful partner of the energy fellows program since 2017. They’re involved in all options that we offer companies: they’re our mentorship partners, they offer placements for our students, and they are training partners, and now they’re sponsoring the summer programs as well.”

Vandeputte noted he had seen the results of the program even before the company signed on. “One of the directors that currently reports to me has been here close to 10 years now, and he was actually in the first Energy Fellows class,” he said. “There aren’t many colleges and universities that currently have immersive energy programs. So for us, having the students work here for a full year gives them some insight into how they can go about using their engineering degrees with respect to energy. I’d like to see more energy engineering programs in the future.”

Vineyard Wind is another supporter that Keane was also happy to welcome. “We have been looking to partner with a representative of the offshore wind energy industry for the last couple of years,” she said. “So we were very excited when Vineyard Wind wanted to participate. They’re such a big name, and that helps us to recruit students, and it recruits other companies as well. It’s also a validation of our work. It’s a nice partnership because they have such brand recognition within the industry.” 

“As the Rhode Island Liaison for Vineyard Wind, it means a lot to partner with my alma mater to ensure that students not only see offshore wind as a possible career, but also have a path to access the opportunity,” said Steven Tadros, who graduated from URI with bachelor of science in Marine Biology in 2016 and a Master of Oceanography degree in 2017.  “We’re proud to once again partner with URI and look forward to engaging these students throughout the semester.” 

This release was written by Hugh Markey.