Multimedia

Wind Turbine Technology on Nantucket Target of WPI Student Research Team

12/17/2008

NANTUCKET ISLAND, Mass. -- A team of WPI students is researching the feasibility of land-based wind turbine technology on Nantucket.  Through their research, the island-based students – Amanda Marton, Justin Skelly, Diana Berlo, and Jennifer Hunt, all juniors – are interviewing island and utility officials, researching regulations and the permitting process, and analyzing data. The students are conducting this research as part of WPI’s Global Perspective Program, an intense and essential off-campus element of the university’s curriculum which prepares students by having them apply their classroom knowledge to developing solutions for technical and societal problems. All of their research will culminate in a presentation to Nantucket Energy Study Committee members, where the students will explain whether establishing a wind farm on Nantucket would be feasible. WPI Professor Michael Elmes serves as the team’s advisor. (Watch this video to learn more about the project.)

These students are following in impressive footsteps in the area of wind energy research; two years ago another team of WPI undergraduates helped Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Worcester take a major step toward installing what may be the first power-generating wind turbine in Worcester. That student project team went beyond proving the feasibility of the wind turbine by steeping themselves in the subject and working to obtain necessary city permits, state grants, and federal aviation approval (with the assistance of Holy Name school administrators and politicians, including U.S. Congressman James McGovern, D-Worcester), an effort that spanned two years. In the end, the team's research helped Holy Name secure a $575,000 grant from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, and through the school's new 262-foot-tall, 600-kilowatt wind-turbine (which is up and running as of this summer), Holy Name is on target to save millions in annual energy costs. (See more on the Holy Name project here.)

In addition to the wind turbine project on Nantucket, three other WPI student teams are also on the island conducting research for the Maria Mitchell Association (updating exhibits at the natural science museum), Nantucket Housing (an affordable housing project), and the Nantucket Historical Association (an iPed tour of downtown).