University of Maine to Host Premiere of Floating Wind Turbine Invention Competition for Students May 13

ORONO, Maine – May 10, 2011 – The University of Maine’s AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center will welcome students from schools all across Maine to the first DeepCwind Consortium’s Windstorm Challenge on Friday, May 13. The events will take place throughout the day in the University of Maine’s Memorial Gym, Wallace Pool, and Field House, and in conjunction with the 3rd Annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge. Over 300 students from over 30 schools will compete at the events.

Building on the success of the Maine Wind Blade Challenge developed by the Maine Composites Alliance, AEWC, and Maine Wind Industry Initiative, this new challenge exposes middle and high school students to the cutting-edge Department of Energy-sponsored offshore wind research at AEWC.


DeepCwind Consortium’s Windstorm Challenge asks teams of middle and high school students to design and construct a floating platform for a scale model wind turbine and deliver a business plan and sales pitch to a panel of expert judges. Teams are critiqued on technical feasibility and aesthetic design of their platform, as well as the quality of their sales pitch.

Windstorm Challenge was developed through a partnership between AEWC and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM). In 2009, Joshua Plourde, Creative Assistant at AEWC, created an “Inventing a Floating Wind Platform” activity and traveled to schools throughout Maine to teach students the basics of floating wind platform science. Luke Shorty, an energetic math teacher from MSSM, first conceptualized the idea of a floating wind turbine platform design challenge and taught it as part of an MSSM Themed Weekend in Spring 2010. Later that summer, Luke worked alongside AEWC staff to lead a group of high school students to design a statewide floating platform design competition, and to learn more about the DeepCwind Research Program. Together with the high school students and staff at AEWC, DeepCwind's Windstorm Challenge was born.

Luke has played an active role in Windstorm Challenge outreach since last summer. For example, his self-directed video ( helped explain the competition to students and teachers in a fun and interesting way. Luke extended an invitation to this year's Themed Weekend floating platform design challenge at MSSM, which provided AEWC staff the opportunity to test the competition's wave maker. MSSM is sending three teams to this year's Windstorm Challenge.

As part of a program to attract Maine's best high school students to UMaine's College of Engineering, Luke and AEWC have teamed up once again. On Sunday, May 8, he and four high school students are traveling to MARIN in the Netherlands to witness AEWC's wind/wave tank testing and to learn more about the DeepCwind Research Program. He will return on May 12 -- just in time for Windstorm Challenge on May 13. The trip is sponsored by UMaine’s College of Engineering and AEWC.

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