Estherville Rotarians had an enlightening - and educational - meeting Thursday when they met at the Iowa Lakes Community College wind turbine and energy technology building.
Dan Lutat, program director, introduced faculty and students who told of their backgrounds and goals after graduating from the program.
Lutat said the program attracts students with a variety of backgrounds - from traditional to those seeking a career change.
Wind energy students Dan Krog, Ethan Hunter, Jacob Krog and Joseph Olka told how their backgrounds have already started to prepare them for careers in the wind energy industry.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann
A lot of students already come with excellent skill sets. For student Joseph Olka, it was 10 years in the telecommunications industry. Ethan Hunter, a native of Turkey, is already in the wind energy business and in the process of trying to get manpower to develop the industry in his country. And Dan Krog, just coming out of a four-year hitch in the Navy, had already been using a lot of the skills that will be required in the wind industry.
In a question-and-answer session that followed, Lutat and the students told more about the program and the industry.
One of five Gold Seal, two-year programs approved by the American Wind Energy Association, the wind energy program at Iowa Lakes prepares students for wind farm construction, siting and analysis, control circuitry, overhauling equipment or training.
As for efficiency, Lutat said most turbines operate at 30-45 percent of rated capacity. However, with newer dynamic pitch systems that adjust blade angle to the wind, operators are getting another 10-20 percent efficiency.
And turbines are getting bigger. Hunter, a second-year student, said developers are looking at turbines over 100 meters in height - well over 300 feet.
The question came about impact on wildlife.
"Wind turbines are very negligible," Lutat said, noting that before turbines even go up developers must do thorough environmental studies.
When the question of what students will be doing in the future came up, students said their interests ranged from developing their own operations, working as traveling technicians, research and development or furthering their education in the electrical engineering field.