Preparing the clean hydrogen workforce

Preparing the clean hydrogen workforce

October 18, 20233 min read

The University of Delaware will play a leading role in workforce development efforts associated with the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2), which has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive up to $750 million in funding through the historic Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program.

MACH2 was chosen as one of seven hydrogen hubs, totaling up to $7 billion in grants, announced by the Energy Department on Oct. 13. In stiff national competition, MACH2 ranked among the most pro-labor and greenest hubs in the nation, according to the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance (DESCA), which brokered the proposal, involving industries, academic institutions, local governments and community partners from across Delaware, southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and the Energy Department is working to accelerate its use as a clean energy source and as a means to decarbonize heavy industry, transportation and energy storage to meet President Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with the regional hydrogen hubs leading the way.

MACH2 will encompass a network of hydrogen producers, consumers, local connective infrastructure for hydrogen deployment, and the education and training needed to develop the region’s clean energy workforce. UD will lead the higher education component of MACH2’s workforce development with Cheyney University, Rowan University and the University of Pennsylvania.

MACH2 is projected to create 20,000 well-paying jobs in the production, delivery and use of zero-emission hydrogen to repower the region’s industrial facilities, transportation systems and agriculture sectors.

What kinds of jobs will MACH2 help prepare people for? There will be a need for technicians for hydrogen-powered vehicles, construction workers for installing hydrogen pipelines, fuel cell power system operators, hydrogen production plant managers, and directors of research and development (R&D) programs, to name a few.

Some of these roles may require a high school diploma and an apprenticeship or specific credential; others may require a college degree, from bachelor’s to master’s to Ph.D.

Yushan Yan, the Henry Belin du Pont Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD, will direct the hub’s higher education workforce development efforts. This work will complement high school, vo-tech and community college training programs in energy and construction that will be expanded through the hub, along with pre-apprenticeship programs, particularly those that recruit from underserved communities, offered by building trade unions.

“The University of Delaware and our collaborators at Cheyney, Rowan and Penn are well-poised to prepare students for rewarding careers in the new hydrogen economy,” Yan said. “Several engineering, energy and hydrogen programs are already in place at our institutions and will be expanded through the hub, offering students exciting opportunities.”

UD will enhance hydrogen technology training at the master’s level through a new “4+1” master’s degree in electrochemical engineering, which would allow highly qualified undergraduate students to earn a bachelor’s degree in an area such as chemical and biomolecular engineering or mechanical engineering and then continue on to earn a master’s degree in electrochemical engineering in the fifth year.

Connect with:
  • Yushan Yan
    Yushan Yan Henry Belin Du Pont Chair of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

    Prof. Yan is an expert in electrochemical engineering for sustainability.

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