Wind Blades Challenge 

Some high schools from across the state have spent months coming up with designs for wind blades.Friday, they put their ideas to the test in the 2nd Annual Wind Blade Challenge at the University of Maine.There was a lot at stake, including $50,000 in college funds for the first place winner.”They design wind blades using composite materials and working directly with composite manufacturers to help them design the blades.”It’s a competition sponsored by the Maine Composites Alliance and the Maine Wind Industry Initiative.Last January, they sent kits to the high school teams taking part, from Aroostook to York counties, then asked them to come up with a blade design that would produce the most energy. It’s an exercise in innovation that requires a little inspiration.”Nature really, we kind of looked at like flower petals, stuff like that.”These students are from Old Town High School. They’re only in 9th grade so it’s their first time here.”We kind of walked into the competition blind. Our blades weren’t tilted at all. They wouldn’t spin. We took it apart, put it back together.”It was duct tape to the rescue. Then it was time to put their petal blades to the test. U-Maine engineering students measured the output.Their nearly 15 volts of energy were enough to propel them into first place, for now.”We kind of just thought we were gonna have errors and we were gonna correct them for next year. It’s obviously very good apparently.”Even though they didn’t end up winning the whole thing, and the $50,000 research assistant jobs that go along with the honor, they are smart enough to know that this is about more than just a contest.Organizers say the real point is…”to really inspire kids to explore advanced materials in their classroom and the engineering process.” “I think wind power, solar power, hydro power is kind of like the future and I think it’s great to see younger people kind of like showing interest in this kind of makes a great statement about the future generation.”That Old Town team placed 10th overall. A team from Sumner High School, made up of Chris Pickering and Blaine West, placed first. They get guaranteed student research assistant employment at UMaine’s AWEC Advanced Structures and Composites Center for four years worth $50,000.In second place, Rebecca Peterson, Sophia Krevans, and Emily Dunbar of Mount Desert Island. They get the student research assistant opportunity worth $40,000.