The US Department of Energy's Wind Program works with industry partners to increase the performance and reliability of next-generation wind technologies, while lowering the cost of wind energy. Research efforts have helped to increase the average capacity factor (a measure of wind power plant productivity) from 20% for wind turbines installed before the year 1999 to an average of almost 35% today. At the same time, wind energy costs have been reduced from over 55 cents (in current US dollars) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 1985, down to an average of 2.4 cents in the US today.
Wind turbines are large mechanical devices that convert wind energy into electricity. The turbine is made up of three major components: a tower, three blades, and a nacelle, which is composed of an outer case, generator, gearbox, and brakes. Although some wind turbine technicians are involved in building new wind turbines, most of their work is in maintaining them, particularly the nacelles, which contain the equipment that generates electricity.
Maintenance schedules are largely determined by a turbine's hours in operation, but can also vary by manufacturer. Turbines are monitored electronically from a central office, 24 hours a day. Typical maintenance includes inspecting components and lubricating parts. For turbines that operate year round, routine maintenance may occur one to three times a year. Windtechs use safety harnesses and a variety of hand and power tools, as well as computers to diagnose electrical malfunctions.
Knight and Carver's Wind Blade Division in National City, CA, works with researchers at the DOE Sandia National Laboratories to develop an innovative wind turbine blade that has led to an increase in energy capture of nearly 15%. The most distinctive characteristic of the Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor (STAR) blade is a gently curved tip, which is specially designed to take maximum advantage of all wind speeds, including slower speeds. The Wind Technologies Market Report finds that wind energy prices are at an all-time low and are competitive with wholesale power prices and traditional power sources across many areas of the United States.
Mechanics of Machining
Degrees of Freedom
design and manufacturing i
design and manufacturing ii
intro to robotics
sail and yacht design
direct thermal solar
Aircraft Design, Aerospace
aerospace engineering 1
human factors engineering
aircraft systems engineering
energy flow in buildings
Analysis of Beam
Method of Joints
Method of Sections
Theories of Failure
intro to materials science
solid state chemistry
materials in human experience
fracture and fatigue
welding and joining
mechanics of plastics
Thermal Power Plant
applied nuclear physics
engineering of nuclear systems
nuclear reactor safety
Diesel vs Petrol
Fuel Cell Technology
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Fluid Dynamics 1
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Centrifugal Pump 2
Brushless DC Motor
Single Phase Motor
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RMF - 1P Motor
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solid state circuits
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photovoltaics - solar energy
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intro to algorithms
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Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical school or community college, where they typically complete a certificate in wind energy technology, or earn an associate's degree. Wind turbine service technicians, known as windtechs, generally work outdoors, often at great heights, and with a partner. When repairing blades, windtechs rappel down a rope from the nacelle to the section of the blade that needs servicing. To reach the blade's edge, workers must climb ladders, sometimes more than 260 feet tall, while wearing a fall protection harness.
Many technical schools have onsite wind turbines that students can work on as part of their studies. In addition to lab coursework, other skill-sets needed to do the job include first aid, and CPR certification, electrical and hydraulic systems maintenance, and computer programming ability. Windtechs typically receive more than 12 months of on-the-job training related to the specific wind turbines they will maintain and service. Other training may include an internship with a wind turbine servicing contractor.
Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design. Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles. They may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.
A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one's career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. The initial PE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor's degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering. Each state issues its own licenses, although most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state's requirements meet or exceed their own.
Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor's and a master's degree. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education. ABET accredits programs in engineering and engineering technology. Most employers prefer to hire students from an accredited program.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Cambridge, MA|
2. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) - Pasadena, CA
3. Stanford University - Stanford, CA
4. University of California Berkeley - Berkeley, CA
5. Cornell University - Ithaca, NY
6. Princeton University - Princeton, NJ
7. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI
8. Harvey Mudd College - Claremont, CA
9. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology - Terre Haute, IN
10. United States Military Academy - West Point, NY
11. Bucknell University - Lewisburg, PA
12. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - San Luis Obispo, CA
13. The Cooper Union - New York, NY
14. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach, FL
15. Georgia Institute of Technology - Atlanta, GA
16. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - Champaign, IL
17. Carnegie Mellon University - Pittsburgh, PA
18. Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
19. University of Texas Austin - Austin, TX
20. University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI
Source: US News, Forbes, and Bloomberg
Wind turbine technicians held about 5,800 jobs in 2017. The median annual wage for wind turbine technicians was $52,260 in May 2017. The majority of wind turbine service technicians work full time, and they may also be on call to handle emergencies during evenings and weekends. When a wind turbine is not functioning, technicians must find the problem and make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.
Employment of wind turbine service technicians is projected to grow 95 percent over the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. Development of taller towers with larger blades has reduced the cost of wind power generation, making it more competitive with coal, natural gas, and other forms of power generation. As additional wind turbines are erected, more windtechs will be needed to install and maintain turbines.
To ensure future industry growth, the wind power must continue to evolve, building on earlier turbine technology successes to further improve reliability, increase capacity factors, and reduce costs. The newest inventions coming out of the DOE Wind Program can also be found on the Energy Innovation Portal, from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Modern wind turbines are increasingly cost-effective and more reliable, and have scaled up in size to multi-megawatt power ratings. The average turbine generating capacity has also increased, with turbines installed in 2015 averaging almost 2MW of capacity. Wind program research has helped facilitate this transition, through the development of longer, lighter rotor blades, taller towers, and more reliable drivetrains. Further, improved turbine performance has led to a more robust domestic wind industry.
The field of power engineering deals with the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. These include transformers, electric generators, electric motors, high voltage engineering, and power electronics. Electrical engineers maintain an electrical network called the power grid, that connects a variety of generators using high-voltage transmission lines. Signal processing relates to the analysis and manipulation of signals. Signals can be either analog, in which case the signal varies continuously, or digital, where the signal varies according to a series of discrete values. Control engineering applications range from flight systems of commercial airplanes to industrial automation. Where there is regular feedback, control theory can be used to determine how the system responds.
Mechanical engineers held about 288,800 jobs in 2017. The median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $84,190 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,420, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,350. Most mechanical engineers work full time, and about 3 in 10 worked more than 40 hours a week in 2017. Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2017 to 2026. In the automotive industry in particular, mechanical engineers will play key roles in improving the range and performance of hybrid and electric cars.
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