UMaine to Host May 14 High School Wind Blade Challenge

Contact: Roberta Laverty, (207) 581-2110 or Paul Williamson, Maine Composites Alliance, (207) 242-3521

ORONO – High schools and vocational centers across Maine are set to participate on May 14 in the second Maine Wind Blade Challenge hosted by the University of Maine AEWC Advanced Structures & Composites Center in partnership with the Maine Composites Alliance and the Maine Wind Industry Initiative.

The statewide high school competition, first held last year, encourages students and teachers to explore the use and application of composite materials in expanding alternative energy industries.

The May 14 event, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UMaine Field House, is free and open to the public. In addition to the competition, there will be interactive displays, exhibits by Maine composites companies, and talks by former Gov. Angus King and AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Director Habib Dagher.

Some 225 high school students from throughout Maine have created 45 teams to design and test wind blades for efficiency. Each team is working with a kit of composite resources provided by the leading composite companies in the state. Students have had nine weeks to research wind blade design and performance. With help from Maine composite businesses, teams have produced their own wind blades to be tested at the Maine Wind Blade Challenge.

Each team received a kit of composite materials from Harbor Technologies, Inc. and OCV Technical Fabrics, both of Brunswick, and Vectorply with help from Momentum Composites. The kits contain: three 18x3x6-inch Polyisocyanurate foam blocks, glass cloth and polyester resin.

After the teams researched and completed individual blade designs, students under the direction of the composite manufacturers produced the blades. Maximum blade length cannot exceed 18 inches, and final blade turbine assembly cannot exceed 42 inches in diameter. Teams also must design a central hub to mount the individual blades to, and must prepare a presentation of their research and design process.

Eighteen composite manufacturers and regional educational institutions with advanced composite manufacturing labs instructed the teams in proper closed vacuum resin infusion process. They included: The Landing School, Arundel; Foster Technology Center, Farmington; Maine Advanced Technology Center, Brunswick; Husson Boat School, Eastport; The AEWC, Orono, Custom Composite Technologies, Bath; and Kenway Corporation, Augusta; Momentum Composites, Brunswick; Harbor Technologies, Brunswick; Peppin Associates, Greenville; Morris Yachts, Trenton; Journeys End Marina; Rockland, Union River Boat Co., Bucksport; John Williams Boat Co., MDI; West Bay Boats, Sullivan; and Saber Yachts, Casco.

UMaine’s AEWC will measure the power output of each blade turbine design at a set wind speed. Teams also will be judged on their research and development approach. Awards will go to the top teams with highest combined power and process scores.

The following schools are scheduled to participate: Brunswick High School, Bucksport High School, Deer Isle Stonington School, Ellsworth High School, Falmouth High School, Forest Hills School, Foster Technology Center, Greeley High School, Jay High School, Lewiston Regional Tech Center, Machias Memorial High School, Maine School of Science and Mathematics, Mattanawcook Academy, Mount Ararat High School,  Old Town High School, Sumner Memorial High School, Valley Bingham High, Vinal Haven High School, Voc Tech Region 10.