A junior in SUNY Canton’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program will travel to South America this winter to manufacture and install a wind turbine that will provide green energy to the rural Peruvian community of Playa Blanca.
Jessica L. Fischer was selected to join 12 other students from around the world for the four-week volunteer project, which is organized by the WindAid Institute, an organization that builds and installs low-cost, residential-scale wind turbines in developing communities.
Fischer, a native of Buffalo, said a passion for wind power is what prompted her to look into working with the nonprofit.
“While pursuing my degree, I had the opportunity to take courses that focus on alternative energy,” she said. “This project will take my education one step further and allow me to see first-hand how providing access to environmentally friendly power can transform someone’s life.”
Since the turbines are manufactured from scratch by volunteers, Fischer said the skills she has gained in the classroom will help her during the fabrication and installation process.
“Every lab and lecture at SUNY Canton included real-world applications for the engineering concepts I was learning,” she added. “I have also completed a course that specifically focused on the design and technology of wind turbines, so I am very prepared for this project.”
Her duties will include constructing the blades, which are a mixture of carbon fiber and resin, and building the base, which is made from recycled stainless steel and fiberglass.
“This opportunity is most fitting for Jessica; she is a dynamic, hardworking and detail-oriented student,” said Daniel J. Miller an assistant professor who teaches in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. “The entire campus is very proud of the work she will be doing in Peru, and we look forward to learning about her experience when she returns.”
Approximately 37 percent of the Peruvian population lacks grid connectivity; however, according to the institute, the rural landscape of the country’s mountains and coastline offers the ideal climate for wind power, which is a preferable alternative to expensive diesel generators that emit carcinogens and other pollutants.
The turbine produces approximately 870 kilowatt-hours of energy annually, which is enough to power a television, laptop or 36 LED lightbulbs for the entire year.
Since the WindAid Institute began 2006, their engineers and technicians have led more than 50 installation projects in Peru. The cost of the materials is covered by the contributions from the volunteers, and maintenance costs are paid for by the recipient community.
Fischer’s trip was funded by donations from the Canton College Foundation, SUNY Canton’s offices of the President and the Provost, and alumnus Thomas P. Woodside, class of 1966.
“I’m very grateful to everyone who supported my efforts to become the first student from SUNY Canton to serve as a WindAid Institute ambassador,” Fischer said.
About WindAid Institute
We serve as an educational institute whose projects provide electricity to developing communities utilizing wind energy to provide a clean and reliable source of electricity in locations where traditional electricity is not available. Students and professionals come from all over the world to work together designing, building and installing wind generators. Each project contributes to the evolution of the design, or reinforces the solidity of the design concepts encouraging an environment of education and innovation. To learn more, visit www.windaid.org.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service and recently received number one rankings in library resources, library services and tutoring services in the SUNY Student Opinion Survey. The college’s faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 11 exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 15 athletic teams compete as members of the NCAA Division III.