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Engineering club’s wind turbine to spin at Earth Day

James Crosby

James Crosby

Ana Mezic, Staff Writer

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At this year’s Earth Day, students will demonstrate how surfboards, bike brakes, and plumbing pipes can charge your cellphone.

The Student Leaders in Science club designed and built a functioning wind turbine that they will showcase in the “Live Green” area of the Earth Day Festival this weekend.

“Our club advisor, Dr. Nick Arnold, has always pushed us to come up with a project that in some way gives back to the community,” said Chris Harrell, a Student Leaders in Science club officer. “I hope we fulfill that by getting up on stage at Earth Day.”

They will give a presentation to educate the community on wind turbines and green energy in general.

“We purchased a booth. It will be pretty interactive,” Tyler Anderson, the project manager, said. “People will be able to walk up and plug their phones in or have some visual effects.”

The students wanted a project that incorporated all different disciplines in science and engineering. The wind turbine provided that.

“I saw an article and a video about a 16-year-old boy in Africa who made a wind turbine out of parts he found in a junkyard and with that he was able to provide his home with electricity which nobody else in his village had,” Harrell said. “I figured if he could do it out of a junkyard in Africa, we could do it here.”

Although the club’s turbine was not quite made out of junk, the students did use some unusual materials to build it.

“We were thinking about things that are lightweight and strong, and I’ve been making surfboards for about 15 years, so that’s the first thing that popped into my head,” Anderson said.

The team started working on their project about midway through the Fall 2011 semester, but club members agree that the personal hours they spent drawing up diagrams and crafting 3-D models are innumerable.

In December, the Community Environmental Council, responsible for organizing Earth Day, heard about the wind turbine and asked the Student Leaders in Science to show their work at the festival.

“That’s when we really hit the ground running. We had a real goal,” Harrell said.

The club currently has 16 participating members. It meets on campus every Friday, but projects are built off campus at Jeff Elings’ Machine Shop.

“In our field of study, in engineering, our schoolwork is mostly just on paper,” said Spencer Wass, co-president of the student leaders in science club. “What we did here at the club was a hands-on project which is something all engineers need.”

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Engineering club’s wind turbine to spin at Earth Day