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Get ready for Bluetech Summer in Delaware

The sector is thriving on the Sussex County coast, and is expected to grow, with potentially thousands of new jobs by 2030.

One of University of Delaware's Ocean Infinity ASVs, aka robot boat. (Courtesy photo)

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as a newsletter alongside a roundup of’s best Delaware reporting from the week, job openings and more. Subscribe here to get updates on Delaware tech, business and innovation news in your inbox on Thursdays.

Are you ready for Bluetech Summer?

It’s finally time to hit the beaches, but we’re thinking less about sand and skimboards and more about bluetech, a sector that is thriving on the Sussex County coast. It’s also one that’s expected to grow, with potentially thousands of new jobs by 2030.

Over the past few years, the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment Lewes campus has become an East Coast bluetech hub. It acquired a rare fleet of autonomous surface vessels (aka robot boats) used in search and safety missions and in maintaining offshore wind farms — which themselves fall under bluetech.

Recently, Delaware’s congressional delegation were able to get two federal earmarks approved for a $2.6 million Offshore Wind Training Program and Blue Economy Technology Center, which will further expand UD’s Robotics Discovery Lab.

On top of that, UD has landed Engineering Research Center (ERC) Phase 1 funding from the National Science Foundation to support building a bluetech test range. The ERC impacts not only UD, but project partner universities including Delaware State University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Rhode Island.

“Everything kind of culminated,” Rob Nicholson, innovation program lead with the Delaware Department of Technology and Innovation, told

By the next decade, wind turbine jobs will become a notable part of the state workforce.

“By 2030, we expect that thousands of wind turbines will be in the waters offshore of both US coasts — generating enough electricity to power 10 million homes,” said Cristina Archer, UD professor and director of the Center for Research in Wind. “Each of these wind turbines will need to be installed and maintained by well-paid technicians that will need special training and certification. The projected number is 44,000 jobs by 2030.”

It all started with a one-slide presentation deck and an acronym coined by Nicholson: ABLE, aka align, build, leverage and expand.

“Project ABLE’s activities align well with the priorities of [UD’s Center for Autonomous and Robotic Systems] and the new initiatives it recently undertook to establish a comprehensive bluetech engineering curriculum with emphasis on autonomous marine systems,” said Dr. Bert Tanner, a professor of mechanical engineering at UD who leads that Center.

In other words, it doesn’t look like robot boats are going anywhere.


Also of note: Earlier this week, Code Differently kicked off its latest 10-week cohort of the StayReady program for college students looking to elevate their tech education.

As always, if you have a story you think might be a fit for (including guest posts by local experts), drop us a line at

Upcoming Delaware events and deadlines

  • The June festival season is in full swing. You have through Saturday, June 11 to eat your way through the Holy Trinity Greek Festival in Wilmington, immediately followed by the St. Anthony’s Italian Festival, kicking off on Sunday June 12.
  • Also this weekend, Old New Castle celebrates Separation Day.
  • There will be a free Open for Business Lunch and Learn on June 13 at the Emerging Enterprise Center in Wilmington, featuring John Fleming, regional administrator for the Small Business Association.
  • TEDxWilmingtonYouth will be held on Saturday, June 11 at Theatre N.
  • Goldman Sachs is expanding in Wilmington with a newly built out floor, officially opening on June 13, to continue the local growth of its consumer business, including Marcus by Goldman Sachs.
  • This month will also bring the return of Futures First Gaming’s Girls Who Game event on the 18th. More on that soon.
  • Secure Delaware is seeking in-person presenters for its 2022 cyber security conference in October. Application deadline is June 24.
  • P&G Ventures, Proctor & Gamble’s early-stage startup studio, is seeking entrepreneurs and inventors for its Innovation Challenge. Deadline is June 30.

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