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Turbine Project Enhances Education in Variety of Penn College Majors

Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies, assesses progress Friday.
Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies, assesses progress Friday.
Mountain stone climbs the exterior walls of the turbine-control building, rising to meet the white vinyl siding that will soon be installed. The 576-square-foot structure will be topped by a blue metal roof, matching another at the ETEC site.
Mountain stone climbs the exterior walls of the turbine-control building, rising to meet the white vinyl siding that will soon be installed. The 576-square-foot structure will be topped by a blue metal roof, matching another at the ETEC site.

Students in an array of Penn College majors are benefiting from installation of a wind turbine near the Schneebeli Earth Science Center south of Williamsport, both from the tower itself and construction of a related control center. Students in the two-year renewable energy technologies major are the prime beneficiaries of the turbine, which sits 80 feet above college property adjacent to the Energy Technology Education Center along Route 15. But the classes of at least seven School of Construction and Design Technologies faculty members, in curricula ranging from carpentry and concrete to masonry and electrical, are building the 24-by-24-foot building that will house the inverters and related equipment. Marc E. Bridgens, dean of the school, said the site will be available to any interested major, whether within construction (such as building science and sustainable design) or in another discipline (such as a science class in the School of Integrated Studies). In addition to providing students with hands-on exposure to the college’s “green” careers, power produced by the wind turbine – just one of the alternative sources examined in the two-year renewable-energy major – will illuminate roadside signage and generate cost-cutting electricity. A solar project on main campus continues to collect data for online comparison; Bridgens said a similar website is possible after the turbine is operational.

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