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NSF Funding Powers New Wind-Energy Research Center

UMass Lowell Leads National Effort Bringing Industry, Academia Together to Advance Field

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WindSTAR, a national effort led by UMass Lowell, will combine the strengths of academia, nonprofits and industry to advance wind energy.

10/14/2014

Contacts for media: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209, Christine_Gillette@uml.edu and  Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu

LOWELL, Mass. – A new research center led by UMass Lowell and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation is bringing industry and university experts in wind energy together to solve mutual problems and advance the field. 

The Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Wind Energy Science, Technology and Research (WindSTAR) was established earlier this year with the goal of enhancing research and development in the field of wind energy and providing world-class training to students at the undergraduate and graduate level. After graduation, those students will go on to support and eventually lead in the analysis, design, manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance of wind-energy systems. 

The center will provide a forum for manufacturers of wind turbines and key components, equipment suppliers, service companies and wind-farm owners and operators to work together to solve problems of mutual interest. It will also offer access to top researchers at institutions around the country who will work to advance and support the development of wind-energy systems that offer low-cost energy and high reliability.

Anchoring the new center is UMass Lowell, the lead institution, in partnership with the University of Texas at Dallas. Other collaborating institutions include Iowa State University, Southern Maine Community College, the KidWind Project and the Maine Wind Industry Initiative. The partners will work together on research and education in areas including composites, foundations, towers, manufacturing and design, structural-health monitoring, non-destructive inspection and testing, control systems, energy storage, offshore wind-energy operations and wind-system planning, siting, operations and maintenance.

WindSTAR is funded by a five-year grant from the NSF and support from industrial members. Those members may direct the research program by selecting projects and serving as collaborators and advisers. In the center’s first year, the industrial advisory board members have directed the research teams to work on new techniques for large-area inspection, self-healing materials for failure prevention, optimization techniques to maximize wind-farm power output and modeling techniques to improve wind-blade manufacturing. 

“With this award from the NSF, UMass Lowell has become the definitive leader for wind energy research here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has established a national reputation for excellence in the field of wind power,” says Christopher Niezrecki, director of WindSTAR and a professor in the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Between contributions from NSF, the university and industry members, the investment into this one-of-a-kind national center will be more than $620,000 in the first year.”

WindSTAR’s collaborative structure offers companies the opportunity to leverage world-class facilities and expertise, significant resources and funding for cooperative research projects.

New industrial members are encouraged to find out more about the center and to be part of these important new research initiatives. For more information on WindSTAR, visit www.uml.edu/WindSTAR.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu