Author: Marvin F. Gonser
The cool windless November night gives way to a pink sky to the East. A harbinger of the day to come. The wind begins to stir and the blades begin their ceaseless pursuit of each other. These are blades of a windmill not from a prairie farm of yesterday pumping water, but of a modern wind turbine producing electricity.
The wisp of a wind can produce electricity that multiplies as the wind accelerates producing as much as 2.4 kilowatts (DC) of electricity. The slow turning of the blades and their acceleration as the sun heats the air are like the program that it represents. It is the progenitor of new energy producers that have been or will be added.
This wind turbine located on the campus of the Kent Intermediate School District’s Kent Career Technical Center located in Grand Rapids, Michigan is one of the new alternative energy devices and programs that are going to be used as the foundation of new programming at KCTC. The turbine is part of other state of the art energy producing programming that has been or will be added to the curriculum housed in the C wing of the Center. This programming will be added to variety of curriculums already being offered to students at KCTC. Designed as a one year curriculum the program will be integrated into programs such as automotive technology, aviation technology as well as engineering and construction programs with these students rotating through the program for at least five days. One program, residential construction, is working with Habitat for Humanity which is providing experience for students to learn about housing energy efficiency and the relevancy when applying it into practice. “It is different from what you usually find in teaching, We are preparing students for collaboration and teamwork,” stated Jarrad Grandy to the Grand Rapids Press. Mr. Grandy is Assistant Director-Regional Career and Technical Education Programs, Organizational Development and Planning for the Kent Intermediate School District. Jason Kalis, Academic Support Teacher-Science,Student Services states,” Our hope is that the Alternative Energy program will draw students to KCTC who may not have considered Career-Tech an option in the past.”
Initial discussions began in January of 2009 which ultimately lead to a $100,000 grant from Energy Works Michigan. During this period a needs assessment was conducted to determine the viability for such programming. The design of the programming was conducted with partners in post secondary education such as Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University as well as others that are adding degree programming to course offerings. In its effort to provide educational opportunities that meet the needs of the community, Kent Career Technical Center also work with community partners in both the business and not for profit sector in designing the programming. The initial concept of the curriculum design was conducted during October 2009. The review of the design was completed by the various outside partners In May of this year this review was completed.
The inaugural programming is slated to begin with the 2011-2012 school year with the acceptance of students into the program. A focus will be placed on renewable energies but other energy formats will be explored such as battery, biofuels, advanced fossil fuels, environmental policy and other programs that will allow a student to continue their education in the areas of energy production or resource.
Available to the public is an internet site that will allow the public to view the performance of the wind turbine in its production of energy. This site gives the viewer information about the production of electricity by the system, as well as to make comparisons to usage and production. While this system is small and intended as a teaching tool the wind turbine is connected to two power inverters which supplies some useful power to the building. To view this site go to:
This site will provide not only the Kent Career Technical Center’s information but also information from other programs throughout the state.