Undergraduate Research

Hunter Sawyer , Mechanical Engineering

“I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to participate in this opportunity.”

"My work is in regard to wind turbines and making sure that they are safe, reliable machines. As the renewable power movement is fairly young, so are the machines that have come out of it. People don’t really know how well a wind turbine built 10 years ago is going to be working 10 years from now. My work deals with making sure we know how strong a wind turbine is and how long it will last long before it goes up in the field. I work with software called ARAMIS and use a technique called Digital Image Correlation. This uses two high-resolution cameras to track the movement, however small or large, of an object in three dimensions. These are used along with a piece of machinery designed by students here at UMass Lowell that slowly bends a wind turbine blade. The ARAMIS system tracks the deflection, or distance the blade has bent from its original location, of the blade and then can digitally map out the strain put on the blade and show the places where it is the highest. This is a small part of the entire process of determining the strength and stability of wind turbines, but with this information, others can reinforce the weak points of the blade so they can last longer and withstand higher winds. This internship has been such a great experience this summer. To be able to get hands on, actual engineering experience this early on in my career is unbelievable and it will put me ahead of the game. I have learned so much this summer that I will be able to use as my education and engineering career advances. I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to participate in this opportunity."