The Hampton Roads Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem (MIBE) hosted by Old Dominion University at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center (VMASC) was recently awarded a $1.1 million project to provide skilled-trades training to the maritime industry.

The Maritime Entry-to-Employment Training (MEET) program will provide entry-level instruction for maritime pipefitters, fiber-optic technicians and welders.

MEET builds upon the Coastal Virginia Maritime Advancement Program (COVA MAP), which has been used by over 800 trainees from industry, public high schools, community colleges and activated U.S. Navy Reservists.

Three years in the making, MEET is funded by a GO Virginia! grant administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Led by Executive Director Mike Robinson, the MEET team includes experts in maritime maintenance repair, education, and modeling and simulation from the MIBE and Virginia Digital Shipprograms.

Partners on the project include a collaborative blend of training experts from Tidewater Community College, the New College Institute in Martinsville and Norfolk-based QED Systems, the East Coast’s sole Navy-certified training source for select trades.

“Our team is committed to supporting and preparing the future maritime workforce with the tools necessary for success,” Robinson said. “With this grant, we will expand our existing course list to include pipefitters and fiber optic technicians, and continue offering high-quality education materials for those seeking a career in the maritime industry in support of Hampton Roads Workforce Council efforts.”

All courses created through COVA MAP and MEET are internet-based and publicly available at no cost (

The MEET program is just one of a number of initiatives aimed at bolstering the maritime industry in Hampton Roads.

Most recently, MIBE and VMASC initiated the Maritime Trades Magnet Project at 12 high schools in six local school divisions and New Horizons Technical Education Center in Hampton in addition to two other projects designed to enhance workforce development in the maritime industry within Virginia and beyond. In March, ODU was awarded a Lab School planning grant from the Virginia Department of Education aimed at developing a maritime- and coastal innovation-based curriculum for Newport News public high schools.