For this sector to thrive, education will need to be a key part of the infrastructure created by the state. The Biofuels Center intends on being a resource in biofuels education and training to help people wanting a career in the biofuels sector so they can easily find the education they need at schools, community colleges, and universities. The Biofuels Center will also assist in the development of targeted programs to assist technology acceleration so that this sector can stay at the cutting edge.
The role education will play was recognized during the development of North Carolina’s Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership, and forms a central part of Strategy 8: Advancing Public Commitment and Workforce Development:
To ensure that North Carolinians understand the personal and societal importance of biofuels produced within their State, a coordinated statewide public endeavor undertaken by varied parties must in the next five years work for and fund informed leadership, targeted education and workforce development, and consumer awareness.
Recognizing the many stakeholders impacted by Strategy 8, the Biofuels Center held the first Strategic Convening on Biofuels Education in 2009.
The Strategic Convening was attended by representatives from K-12, North Carolina Community College System, University System, industry, nonprofits and others. The group discussed what needed to be done in the short- and medium-term and discussion fell into four main areas:
- Curriculum development
- Educator outreach
The group identified a number of ideal outcomes for biofuels education in the state, including the following:
- Commission a North Carolina biofuels jobs survey. This has been completed and a white paper will be released, shortly. It will be uploaded to Resources.
- Develop a longer-term, demand-driven education plan to support industry’s development
- Create a database of biofuels-related education in the state. The new version of this database will be online soon.
- Create a ‘Biofuels 101’-type short course
- Assist in the development of appropriate K-12 materials
- Create a web-based location for educators to connect and network using web 2.0 tools
- Create professional training and development for K-12 teachers, including teacher tools, coursework, web-based materials as well as training for teachers on these tools and materials
- Develop materials for administrator education to ensure adoption of biofuels-related education