UMass Lowell Collegiate Wind Competition Team
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is one of 10 universities slated to participate in the inaugural collegiate wind competition
. The competition challenge is to develop the technical design and business plan for a viable transportable wind turbine to charge portable electronics. The team will be competing at AWEA Windpower
May 4-7, 2014 in Las Vegas. The faculty team advising this effort includes: David Willis (Mechanical Engineering), Christopher Hansen (Mechanical Engineering), Stephen Johnston (Plastics Engineering), Christopher Niezrecki (Mechanical Engineering), Ziyad Salameh (Electrical Engineering), and Yi Yang (School of Management).
The UMass Lowell team has employed a Design Thinking1-inspired approach. The multi-disciplinary team of mechanical, plastics and electrical engineering students combined with a small team of business students initially focused their attention on defining, understanding and empathizing with cell-phone user-groups, especially those users who were in need of an extra boost of energy – be they on or off the grid. The team determined that most urban users need a boost of charge later in the day—after work or during their evening social activities – and has decided to focus on this large potential customer base. A series of ideation sessions surrounding this user-centric philosophy yielded several candidate wind turbine charging concepts.
The real breakthrough in the students’ ideation process was two nearly simultaneous realizations. First, as wind turbines become smaller, the challenges associated with converting wind power to electricity increase – aerodynamic efficiency decreases, generator rotational speed and cost increases, and the wind near the ground is inconsistent and usually has less available kinetic energy. Second, the team focused on the user frustration associated with the time that is required to charge a device while standing/waiting in a windy area. Most personal device charging profiles target a 1-2% per minute charging rate, translating into a 1-2 hour charging experience – something that would not only present a challenge for the proposed company, but would also potentially cast a shadow on wind energy’s reputation. The team decided to tackle both of these challenges by redefining the charging experience to be more user and environmentally friendly. The team has developed a novel charging station concept called GoJuice – a rapid and free phone charging service.
Visit the team’s website at http://faculty.uml.edu/dwillis/GoJuice/.
The student team members include:
Erik Anderson, Mechanical Engineering
Jeffrey Chung, Mechanical Engineering
Michael Dube, Mechanical Engineering
Dean Kennedy, Mechanical Engineering
Patrick Logan, Mechanical Engineering
David Phung, Mechanical Engineering
Erika Sjöberg, Mechanical Engineering
Christopher Daly, Plastics Engineering
Donna DiBattista, Plastics Engineering
Peter Jones, Plastics Engineering
Parth Patel, Plastics Engineering
Meaghan Riley, Plastics Engineering
Michael Schaefer, Plastics Engineering
Albert Andino, Electrical Engineering
Isaac Grulon, Electrical Engineering
Jigar Patel, Electrical Engineering
Alexandre Sampaio, Electrical Engineering
Management/ Management & Entrepreneurship
Robert Leboeuf, Management & Entrepreneurship
Gregory Lennartz, Entrepreneurship
1Tim Brown, “Design Thinking”, Harvard Business Review, June