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Interdisciplinary efforts in graduate education
The theme of the next issue of Professional Education News will be interdisciplinary efforts in graduate professional education. Do you know of a graduate project or program at UD that gets extraordinary results by crossing disciplinary lines? Do you know of an outstanding interdisciplinary effort to serve our professional graduate students? Please send your ideas for feature
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John Sawyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Provost for Professional Education
Office of Graduate and Professional Education
Graduate students DeAnna Sewell and Blaise Sheridan took the idea of "hands-on learning" to a whole new level when they earned certification to climb the University of Delaware's wind turbine located in Lewes, and in May completed their first ascent to the top of the 256-foot-tall machine.
Graduate student DeAnna Sewell atop UD's wind turbine in Lewes. [Photo by Blaise Sheridan]
The trip to the top is to be the first of many for the students who are to facilitate turbine research by placing instrumentation used to gather data. During their recent ascent they took measurements for steel samples to be mounted for corrosion research and diagnosed a malfunction with a microphone being used in a bird and bat study.
The graduate students, who both have undergraduate engineering degrees, said being able to climb the turbine will benefit their future careers. Sewell, of Hobe Sound, Fla., is a master's student in the Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Program who is developing computer models of underwater forces on offshore turbine foundations. Sheridan, a native of Tucson, Ariz., is earning his master's degree in the Marine Policy Program and studying the environmental and social costs and benefits of wind energy. Sheridan is a College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment Magers Family Fellow this semester.
"This will make them extremely well qualified to work in the wind power field, as people regulating the wind industry, or as engineers in the wind industry," said Willett Kempton, professor of marine policy, who advises both students. "Not only are they learning the theory and basic principles, but also the very practical experience."Kempton reviews research on the turbine as research director of the UD Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.
"I don't think you would get this anywhere else as part of a master's degree, and let alone have a turbine on your campus," Sheridan reflected. "This is quite incredible."
Graduate student Blaise Sheridan is studying the environmental and social costs and benefits of wind energy. [Photo by DeAnna Sewell]
The University of Delaware and Gamesa Technology Corporation joined forces to install the utility-scale 2-megawatt wind turbine at UD's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, which became operational in June 2010. The joint venture, First State Marine Wind, is a partnership between UD-owned Blue Hen Wind and Gamesa USA.
This partnership came about because of synergies that emerged from wind research being conducted at UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and College of Engineering, the State of Delaware's interest in offshore wind, the City of Lewes' interest in innovative energy opportunities, and Gamesa's interest in improving its understanding of the effects of marine conditions such as salt spray on turbine coatings, corrosion and avian impacts. Gamesa is the market leader in Spain and is positioned among the most important wind generator manufacturers in the world.
In addition to providing carbon-free electricity, the project enhances research in areas such as turbine corrosion, avian impacts and policy issues related to renewable energy. Information gained from the project is helping the University and Gamesa work toward establishing the first offshore wind turbine in the Americas.