Creating a Cutting-Edge Workforce for Coastal Resilience

July 09, 2024

Andrew Schwarz

Andrew Schwarz

Coastal areas represent some of the most heavily developed regions on Earth, accommodating growing human populations, a wide array of business and recreational activities, and thriving industries. However, this extensive utilization has taken a toll on natural coastal ecosystems, leading to the decline or destruction of ecosystems and important geological features. Louisiana's coastline in particular is facing significant challenges, but a fundamental question remains: how do we build the labor force necessary to help save it, and what skills do they need to bring to bear?

A recent research project entitled "Creating a Cutting-Edge Workforce for Coastal Resilience", led by Professor Andrew Schwarz, supported by the Kathy and Roy O. Martin III Faculty Research Award, and part of a larger initiative known as Louisiana Climate Oriented Adaptive Skills Training (LA COAST), aimed to define the elements of a workforce designed around coastal preservation, understand the necessary skillsets for that workforce, and then develop a team to pursue a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant for curriculum development and commercialization. 

“The funding from the Kathy and Roy O. Martin III Faculty Research Award Program has been instrumental in seeding the LA COAST Initiative," Schwarz said. "Through this funding, we have laid a robust foundation for advancing coastal resilience through innovative digital twin technology and immersive workforce training, positioning us for future funding opportunities and impactful developments in the sector."

The research used job posting data from, combined with interviews with key stakeholders in the coastal resilience community such as governmental agencies, non-profits, and private sector industries, to produce a three-dimensional job matrix combining role, skillset, and agency. During the project, Schwarz partnered with Do-It-Greener, a minority-managed non-profit based in Lafayette, Louisiana, with a focus on green workforce development. Do-It-Greener serves as a backbone organization for the collective LA COAST partnership as it pursues further grant funding from the NOAA.

Schwarz continued: "[LA COAST] has significantly strengthened our collaborative efforts with key partners like Meta, Unity, LSU, ULL, and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, and establish new partnerships with a host of supporters, including Solar Alternatives; AES Clean Energy; Curtis Stout; NextEra; Ernest P. Breaux; Power Strategies; First Solar; Nunez Community College; and the InterTribal Council of Louisiana. The relationships and insights gained through this initiative are now being leveraged to pursue new avenues of support, including collaborations with the [United States] Department of Energy, ensuring that our efforts contribute meaningfully to the region's economic and environmental sustainability.”


About the Award

Each year, the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business solicits proposals from faculty across all disciplines of the college to receive funding from the Kathy and Roy O. Martin III Faculty Research Award. Established in March 2022 by a generous donation, these awards support our faculty and their students as they explore cutting-edge topics impacting modern business, such as renewable energy initiatives, improved health outcomes for the state, coastal restoration and sustainability, agricultural advancement and sustainability, data science, or artificial intelligence.