University of Maine helps high-school students get $20k for school with wind technology contests

Windstorm Challenge 2016 winning team Falmouth High School A6. These
students will receive an internship at the UMaine Composites Center
valued more than $20,000 contingent upon enrollment at UMaine. Left to
right: Falmouth High School teacher Kim Blenk, team members, and Dr.
Habib Dagher, executive director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and
Composites Center.

UMaine Composites Center hosted 300 students at Wind Blade Challenge, Windstorm Challenge; Winners eligible for $20,000 internships

The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center hosted the Windstorm Challenge and the 8th Annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge for 300 middle- and high-school students at the end of May.

Winning team members of both competitions were offered internships valued at more than $20,000 at the UMaine Composites Center, contingent upon enrollment at the university. 

“We were pleased to present Maine students with these two truly hands-on STEM experiences that immerses them in energy research inside our 100,000-square-foot laboratory to help spark the next generation of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and job creators for Maine and for the United States,” said Habib Dagher, executive director of the UMaine Composites Center. “We're confident that some of the best future engineers, scientists and entrepreneurial leaders were here today, and our goal is to inspire them with opportunities in our state.”

The first Windblade Challenge was promoted by then Governor John Baldacci, to help inspire more high school students in the science field. Funds from the Governor's contingency fund were part of the award.

The fourth Windstorm Challenge — held in the center's Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab — engaged students in floating offshore wind technology, innovation and business.

Student teams designed and built a scale-model floating wind turbine platform and delivered a sales pitch-style presentation to a panel of UMaine and industry judges. The teams' floating turbine models were tested under extreme winds and wave conditions. The team with the most stable platform and strongest presentation was selected as the winner.

The 8th Annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge, also hosted at the center, is a program of the Maine Composites Alliance and the Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative. This challenge connects teams of middle- and high-school students with composites companies to construct and infuse a functional set of wind blades.

"It was inspiring to see the creativity of these Maine students and, without doubt, Maine composites companies are looking forward to them joining our workforce," said Steve Von Vogt, Managing Director of the Maine Composites Alliance.

Each Wind Blade Challenge team's goal was to manufacture an assembly that would generate the most energy in 3 minutes or fewer. Each team also gave a presentation on its design and innovation processes.

Windstorm Challenge 2016 Winners

  • 3rd Place:  Caribou Middle School B2
  • 2nd Place: King Middle School B18
  • 1st Place: Falmouth High School A6

Maine Composites Alliance' 8th Annual Wind Blade Challenge 2016 Winners

  • 3rd Place: Lewiston High School Team 4
  • 2nd Place: Freeport High School
  • 1st Place: Bangor High School Team 1

Left to right: Maine Composites Alliance Managing Director Steve Von
Vogt, members of Bangor High School Team 1, and Bangor High School
teacher John Cangelosi. This team won Wind Blade Challenge 2016 and
will receive an internship at the UMaine Composites Center valued more
than $20,000 contingent upon enrollment at UMaine.

About UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center:

Since its establishment by the National Science Foundation in 1996, the center has employed and trained more than 2,000 UMaine students. These students were paid to work on award-winning R&D projects funded by more than 500 Maine-based, national and international companies that partner with the center. The center is housed on campus in a 100,000-square-foot laboratory facility valued at more than $110 million. Research at the center has resulted in 42 issued and pending patents, more than 500 published technical papers and the creation of 14 Maine spin-off companies through licensing agreements of its inventions, patents or trade secrets.