Students compete at University of Maine in Wind Blade Challenge, Windstorm Challenge

April 27, 2012
From Bangor Daily News

ORONO, Maine — Numerous high and middle school students descended on the University of Maine campus Friday for the fourth annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge and the DeepCwind Consortium’s Windstorm Challenge.

Hundreds of students and teachers from more than 40 schools throughout the state gathered at the New Balance Student Recreation Center for the competition, which kicked off Friday morning and concluded around 4 p.m.

The challenges featured competitions for middle and high school students to design, build, implement and test wind power technology components similar to those used in a UMaine research program in deepwater and offshore wind power.

Susan J. Hunter, UMaine senior vice president for academic affairs, kicked off the ceremony with a keynote address while activities began with students testing components in the recreation center swimming pool.

The Windstorm Challenge is a middle and high school invention competition focusing on deepwater offshore wind technology.

The challenge asks teams to design and construct a floating platform for a scale model wind turbine, then create a thorough business plan and sales pitch.

The Wind Blade Challenge, a program developed by the Maine Composites Alliance in partnership with the Advanced Structures and Composites Center and the Maine Wind Industry Initiative, matches high school students with composites manufacturers in Maine to research, design and manufacture model wind blades.

The challenge culminates in a competition to see which team invented the most efficient wind blade.

All winning team members who go on to attend UMaine receive a $20,000 paid internship at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

Winners from the competitions are as follows:

Windstorm Challenge:

Overall 1st Place — Team MMA, Madison Area Memorial High School

Overall 2nd Place — Ben Danh Joe Alex, Madison Area Memorial High School

Overall 3rd Place — Seahawks, Boothbay Region High School

Overall 4th Place — Oober and the Goober, Middle School of the Kennebunks

Overall 5th Place — The Wok, Winthrop High School

Stability 1st Place — The Wok, Winthrop High School

Stability 2nd Place — Team MMA, Madison Area Memorial High School

Stability 3rd Place — W.I.B. – Seal Team 3, Old Town High School

Stability 4th Place — Lyndsay Marcus Hannah Cody, Madison Area Memorial High School

Stability 5th Place — Seahawk, Boothbay Region High School.

Wind Blade Challenge:

1st Place — Easton High School

2nd Place — Presque Isle High School Team No. 3

3rd Place — Mt. Blue High School

People’s Choice Award — Orono High School

Wind Blade Challenge Teacher of the Year — John McDonald of Foster Technology Center

Wind Blade Challenge Composite Partner of the Year — The Boat School of Eastport

Foster Technology Center students design wind blades

March 19, 2012
From Daily Bulldog

FARMINGTON – In the middle of a workshop strewn with boat hulls, snowboards and a enormous, glossy drag racer, Foster Technology Center students are making wind turbine blades.

The Maine Wind Blade Challenge, an event sponsored by Maine Composites Alliance, the Maine Wind Industry Initiative and the University of Maine system, is in its fourth year. Students design a set of blades for a wind turbine out of composite material, build and test their creations and then pit them against the other 60-plus teams involved in the challenge. Each turbine is tested at the University of Maine in Orono, with the turbine capable of producing the most significant voltage being declared the winner.

Generally, students travel to a business or college associated with Maine’s burgeoning composites industry; combining strong, light-weight materials to create boats, skies, aircraft, machine parts and other products. At the Mt. Blue Learning Campus, in the new E-wing, local students can do it right in their own lab, in John MacDonald’s composites course.

“Most teams travel to do the infusion,” Sylvie Boisvert said. Representing the Maine Composites Alliance, the challenge’s biggest sponsor, Boisvert travels throughout the state to oversee the infusion process, where liquid resin is forced through layers of cloth under a vacuum. This “vacuum infusion” coats the fibers with resin, creating a light, sturdy structure.

“[The students] get to see what the jobs are,” Boisvert said. “What jobs are associated with composites.”

Blade designs are tested in Jake Bogar’s physics classroom, just down the hall. His physics students, which include some members of the local Maine Wind Blade Challenge team, test designs cut from cardboard and milk cartons in front of an enormous fan that dominates a classroom filled with projected graphs and half-completed projects.

“They get to build off the knowledge that my students have gathered in the class,” Bogar said. “This worked, this didn’t.”

The 2011 local team’s project proved the importance of design in rather epic fashion; the blades broke away when the turbine began to spin, whipping them into the air. Bogar plays the video again and students gather to watch.

“It was great,” Bogar said. The challenge organizers gave them another chance to test the turbine. “They were psyched.”

The Wind Storm Challenge, in which students design and market an offshore wind turbine, is held at the same time as the wind blade challenge. Both events are aimed at promoting STEM curriculum: Science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition to creating a design and building a wind turbine blades, students must defend their decisions in a presentation.

The competition is just one of many projects MacDonald’s class is undertaking. Last week they were putting the finishing touches on skis and snowboards, hopefully in time to catch the last few days of the ski season, and they’re getting ready to test the remote-controlled boat they built. MacDonald says it’s designed to do 50 mph.

“We’ve got our fingers in so many pies,” MacDonald said. At the wind blade challenge, they’re hoping to equal the effort of Jay’s team, which took first prize last year.

Luke Goodwin, a senior from Jay, was working the vacuum infusion with MacDonald and Boisvert. Composites, Goodwin said, offered students the ability to make anything.

“I like how it can apply to pretty much anything,” Goodwin said. “You can always switch to something else if you get bored.”

The Maine Wind Blade Challenge trials are April 27, on the University of Maine campus.

Resin is drawn through cloth via application of a vacuum.

7 New Schools Join WBC!

We have gathered all of our registrations and we are proud to welcome 5 new high schools and 2 middle schools: Beals High School- Jonesport, Camden Hills Regional High School- Rockport, Easton High School-Easton, Orono High School- Orono, Searsport High School-Searsport, King Middle School-Portland, and Loranger Middle School- Old Orchard Beach.