Grant to Fund Installation of Turbine for Renewable Energy Major

Published 06.30.2010

Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies News

Students in Pennsylvania College of Technology's new renewable energy technologies major soon will benefit from a highly visible instructional tool: a 10-kilowatt wind turbine to be erected this fall near the college's Schneebeli Earth Science Center south of Williamsport.

A $96,425 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, a subcontract from a larger award to The Pennsylvania State University's Department of Aerospace Engineering, will fund installation of the "small wind" turbine atop a 60- to 100-foot tower along Route 15 near Allenwood.

Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies at Penn College, said there are more viable sites at which to gauge wind-power generation, but he emphasized that while the turbine tower might well produce some utility-cost payback for the institution the project primarily is an educational one. Its location along a major north-south highway also will provide a noticeable symbol of the college's practical philosophy in the service of "degrees that work," he said.

"Alternative methods of producing energy that will reduce our carbon footprint are a responsibility that we must all take part in. The renewable-energy program will deliver the necessary tools to accomplish such tasks," Bridgens said. "The addition of the wind turbine will provide an excellent supplement to our hands-on approach to the students' skill-building practices."

A portion of the grant money is budgeted for curriculum, staff and workforce development in conjunction with the two-year major, to be offered for the first time during the Fall 2010 semester. Ten students already have committed to that course of study, which will help them develop the skills to install, troubleshoot and maintain photovoltaic, wind-turbine and solar-thermal systems.

Penn College students in majors as varied as heavy construction equipment technology, electrical occupations and building construction technology also will benefit from the project, from site excavation to the pouring of the tower's concrete base to the electrical hookups necessary to complete the installation.

Dovetailing with the renewable energy major, an array of photovoltaic panels recently was installed near the Victorian House on the college's main campus under a Solar Scholars Grant from the Sustainable Energy Fund. Students can monitor the energy production and resultant cost savings by logging onto a Sunny Portal website; Bridgens said a similar online gauge is likely to be developed for the wind turbine.

For more about the school, in which the college's "green" focus also is complemented by a sustainable building major, visit online or call 570-327-4518.

For general information about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

For more information about grant-funding opportunities, faculty and staff may contact the Grants and Contracts Office at ext. 7562 or through its Web portal.