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Hundreds of Maine Students Compete to Harness the Power of the Wind UPDATED

Harnessing the power of the wind.

University of Maine officials think it’s the economic future of the state.

It was also the subject of competitions among students Friday at the Advance Structures and Composites Center.

“We have over 300 kids from all over the state of Maine” said Composite Center Director Habib Dagher.  “We are running two statewide competitions.”

One, to design a wind turbine rotor.

“The rotor that produces the most energy wins” said Dagher.

Two, design a turbine that floats.

“The students to develop the most stable platform that will withstand the waves and the winds wins the competition” he explained.

Middle and high schoolers from Caribou to Portland going head to head with an eye toward the future.

“It’s preparing you for the real world and what you are going to be seeing” said James Walker, a Skowhegan Junior.  “With a bunch of the calculations that you have to do in writing in your engineering notebook and making sure everything is all documented it’s definitely going to prepare us.”

Keith Martin’s company is among the event sponsors.

“It’s interesting to see how the kids think” he said.  “I’ve seen some brute force approaches and also some really subtle finesse.”

“Our goal was to use the three prong idea on the sides to give it a good buoyancy force so it would flow evenly and stay on the water” said Chandler Shaw from Skowhegan.

“We started with PVC and had to keep it within a 30 x 30 dimension and 40 inches deep and keep the piece that would connect to the wind blade turbine four inches above the water”  said Colby Esty as he took us through the design process. “Then we figured out the buoyancy force and figure out how far we wanted it to sink into the water.”

“We really had to think about something that everyone isn’t going to do” said competitor Ricky Oberg.  “Which you really saw today, you really didn’t see two things done twice. Maybe similar ideas but everything was done differently.”

“The other piece of this that makes it really relevant is for the kids to see the renewable energy piece where they get climate change and they want to be part of the solution” said Gus Goodwin at teacher at King Middle School in Portland.
“It’s very exciting for us to truly inspire the kids to become the entrepreneurs of the future” said Dagher.  “So these kids will eventually develop businesses in the state of Maine and create opportunities and create jobs.”