Participants of the 2023 Windstorm Challenge have joined UMaine and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) as interns as first year undergraduates in UMaine’s engineering program.
The Windstorm Challenge is an opportunity for middle and high school students to work on a fun, hands-on engineering project. After completing a renewable energy and floating offshore wind curriculum in their classrooms, students build their own floating wind turbines and test them at the Alfond W2 Wind-Wave tank. This past May, over 600 middle and high school students came and tested their wind turbines at our completely free STEM carnival. The First place winning high school team earns a scholarship to the University of Maine (approximate value of $60,000), where they come and work at the renowned ASCC, receiving their scholarship as a stipend while gaining hands-on engineering experience.
“Technical skills are important in engineering. Knowing how to do hands-on engineering is as important as doing the math,” said Dorothy Ives, a recent undergraduate who participated in the 2023 windstorm challenge.
The Windstorm Challenge gets students involved in the engineering process, and shows prospective undergraduates that the University of Maine’s engineering program has real-life applications that are actively changing energy systems around the world. This opportunity is geared towards making engineering accessible: it costs the student $0 to participate, and the ASCC works to provide travel assistance for those who need it on the Windstorm Challenge day. Students can also earn a UMS microcredential badge, a digital badge to highlight skills learned and mastered.
“The Windstorm challenge reaffirmed my choice in UMaine,” said Lucas Gagnon, member of the 2023 winning team. This year, the ASCC has four new student interns who participated in the windstorm challenge, three of which were on the winning team. Those students are all studying engineering at the University of Maine and working on engineering projects at the ASCC.
“UMaine has opportunities for first year students that no other University has,” said Dorothy Ives. All of our Windstorm students now work in the Wind/Wave basin where they tested their wind turbines less than a year prior. “It’s very cool to work in the W2 basin. There’s nothing else like it in the United States,” said Lucas Gagnon.
One of the ASCCs motto’s is “Students First”. Our main commitment to student employees is preparing them for a career in engineering after college. “Working at the ASCC has guided me into a career in Offshore Wind,” said Samuel Goodspeed, who participated in the 2022 windstorm challenge, and worked at the 2023 Windstorm Challenge. “Seeing all the student’s turbines the next year was cool, seeing which ones might break, and which ones might do well.”
We’re proud to have our Windstorm participants joining us this semester as amazing students who are starting their careers in engineering, thanks to their participation in the Windstorm Challenge!
Stay tuned for updates regarding our 2024 Windstorm Challenge.