The Purdue University Northwest Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) and its collaborators have been awarded an $869,180 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program for their project, “Troubleshooting and Safety Simulator for Wind Turbine Technician Education."
This project will develop and implement a web-based 3-D wind turbine simulator as well as education modules that will help transform teaching practices in community college wind energy programs across the country.
“The simulators will provide community college students with an enhanced learning experience using engaging, dynamic content and realistic simulations that will prepare them to enter the wind energy workforce,” said project principal investigator and CIVS director Chenn Zhou. “A virtual wind turbine simulator can provide realistic scenarios, giving students hands-on experiences that would be dangerous or impractical in traditional lab settings.
“PNW faculty and students will use some modules in their courses related to wind energy, safety, maintenance and troubleshooting. What we are doing will result in more efficient wind farms and contribute to more sustainable energy for the country.”
Purdue University Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon recognized the importance of this collaboration and its significance to the industry.
“This is a great collaboration of the CIVS, community college educators, wind energy industry, education researchers and evaluators,” said Keon. “We recognize the importance of interactive 3D training to improve the quality of tomorrow’s technical workforce. The simulator and education modules developed through this project will improve the skills of our wind technicians so that we can help meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s vision of having 35 percent of the country’s energy come from wind by the year 2050.”
Zhou added, “Ultimately, we will further solidify Purdue Northwest and Northwest Indiana’s role as a leader in developing new and effective methods for virtual learning and training. Wind energy, steel and automotive are just some of the industries benefiting from advanced technologies being used for interactive 3D training for technicians and engineers.”
Zhou believes this will yield concrete long-term results – a prepared skilled and diverse workforce ready to meet the demand of the wind energy industry; an improved, effective technology education; a model for workforce development in other fields and a means to further inspire kindergarten through high school students in STEM education.
An interdisciplinary team of experts
The project will be led by an interdisciplinary team that includes representatives of community colleges, the wind energy industry and university research centers. Co-Investigators on the project are Emily Hixon of Purdue Northwest, Tom Sutton of Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Steve Vietor of Riverland Community College and John Roudebush of Ivy Tech Community College. Additional experts will also collaborate from Highland Community College, EDF Renewable Energy, the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative (AMTEC), the Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education Using Virtual E-School (CA2VES) and others.
The new initiative will build upon previous projects by CIVS and its collaborators, including “Mixed Reality Simulators for Wind Energy Education,” sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Education and “Wind Tech TV” sponsored by NSF.