Maine Wind Blade Challenge

ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Some of Maine's engineers of the future attempted to blow away their competition at the University of Maine today. High School and even some middle school students spent the last several months creating unique wind blades that could be used on turbines. In all, Thirty nine teams from nineteen schools competed in today's challenge to see whose blade produced the most electricity in windy conditions.

"We've only seen this thing for about a month, because we've been working on a spreadsheet most of the time and it has like pages and pages of different air foils that we've tested to see which one is the best," said Baxter Academy Freshman, Ethan Frederick.

Months of trial and error all came down to a two minute performance on Friday at the Maine Wind Blade Challenge. Teams watched as their specially designed wind blades spun in the rushing air, hoping they can come away with the most produced electricity- and a fully intact product.

"There was also a possibility that these could fly off and smash on the ground... So we're glad that didn't happen too," Frederick said.

Each blade is pelted with 15 mile an hour winds. The faster the blade spins, the more volts of electricity are produced. Students today produced an average of 15 to 30 volts.The highest voltage ever recorded in the past six years the competition has been in action is 37 volts- enough to power a small home.

"Every thirty seconds throughout the test, we then turn on a set of lights that adds resistance, 20 omes, to the generator so that the blade has to work harder and keep moving and generate that electricity," said Paul Williamson, Director of Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative.

The Wind Blade Challenge was created to encourage students to use their skills and education in STEM subjects- science, math, engineering and technology- and apply it to a real world project.

"The project is really designed about helping students explore these opportunities and think about how they're going to enter into the work force as well as preparing our younger generation to come and provide solutions that our future society is really going to need," Williamson said.

The first place champions of today's Wind Blade Challenge were those boys from Baxter Academy. Their blade produced between thirty and thirty five volts of electricity. The team received a trophy made out of custom wind blades designed and tested by professional engineers.


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