Students compete to build most stable wind turbine platform

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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Middle and high school students from all over the state gathered at the University of Maine Friday for an engineering challenge.

"We have about 400 students from across the state of Maine who are testing floating wind turbines." said Dr. Habib Dagher, Executive Director of the Advanced Structures & Composites Center.

Students showed off their engineering skills by bringing scale-model offshore wind turbine platforms they built to the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center for the Kleinschmidt Windstorm Challenge.

Gabi Membreno spoke to us representing her team from King Middle School in Portland.

"Well, we made sketches, and then we started building, and then we combined teams with someone and started building together."

All the platforms were equipped with a standardized turbine, and teams were judged on the stability of their design.

"They have a lot of very inventive designs." said Dr. Dagher. "The students are very excited. The teachers are very excited. They want to see how their design works."

"We went twice, and the first time we went, it broke. Everything fell off." said Membreno. "So we were excited because it worked well."

"The winners at the end get a $20,000 scholarship to come to this lab if they're accepted at the University of Maine." said Dr. Dagher. "The goal here is to develop the next generation of engineers and scientists that can help the state of Maine and the country develop this next generation of renewable energy opportunity."

The platforms are similar to a full-scale version designed by the University for the Maine Aqua Ventus project.

"About to build the first floating full scale turbine off the coast of Maine."

Success or failure, the students say they've learned a lot.

"A lot of them want to come back next year. They say I know how to do it better. Next year, I'm coming back."

Lakes Region High School in Naples won the HS division and will recieve the $20,000 scholarship if they are accepted to UMaine.

Gabi Membreno and her team from King Middle School in Portland went on to win the middle school division.