Mesalands Community College recently partnered with the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the mechanical engineering and material science department at Washington University in St. Louis. Both universities signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with Mesalands. These documents allow the universities to use the commercial-sized turbine and the first-class facilities at the new North American Wind Research and Training Center. This partnership will aid groundbreaking wind energy research at both universities.
“We recognize that training technicians is an important part of what our new wind center is about, but the research aspect is of equal importance,” Phillip O. Barry, President of Mesalands Community College, said. “The ultimate goal of these partnerships is to stimulate economic development and growth through the result of research being conducted in our community.”
Barry says Mesalands contacted several major universities with engineering departments, inviting them to become research partners with the college. As a result, UCLA and Washington State University in St. Louis signed memorandum agreements to become research partners with Mesalands.
The memoranda were signed by Barry, Richard Wirz, assistant professor of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at UCLA, and David Peters, professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.
Wirz says engineering students at UCLA will benefit from the use of a large wind center and a commercial-sized wind turbine. His students are currently limited to using computational models and significantly scaled down experimental setups to conduct their research.
“This partnership is a great opportunity for us. Our engineering students will now be able to conduct research on an actual wind turbine,” Dr. Wirz said. “Working with Mesalands will definitely advance the research development of wind energy.”
Peters of Washington University in St. Louis says he looks forward to sending his engineering students to Tucumcari to conduct their research at the new wind center.
“Our students will greatly benefit from this partnership,” Peters said. “And I look forward to a long working relationship with Mesalands Community College.”
Mesalands will now have three research partnerships, after making history last year as the first two-year college to partner with a national laboratory. Mesalands signed a memorandum with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, allowing them to conduct wind energy research at the college’s new wind center. Partnering with two major universities and a national laboratory is key to examining problems related to operations and maintenance of wind turbines, and exploring new ways to increase efficiency and longevity. Research at the new wind center will also assist in the future development of technologies to make wind power a steady and reliable source of electricity.