UCT (South Africa) project to build a wind turbine out of scrap material


Photos: Michael Boyer (left); Renee Dorsey (right)
[Left] IEEE student members and the students from South Africa’s Thandokhulu and Westerford secondary schools. [Right] North Penn High School students from the Philadelphia Section EPICS program.

In South Africa, Sinha worked with the University of Cape Town student branch members on ideas for an alternative energy project. To understand the challenges, the team reviewed thesis proposals by the school’s engineering students. They settled on Student Member Justin Alvey’s project to build a wind turbine out of scrap material to generate power for a local village.
The group worked with students from Thandokhulu and Westerford secondary schools. After teaching the youngsters the basics of wind power, the student members helped the high school students design and build the 1-meter-long blades for the turbine. Alvey developed the generator on his own as part of his thesis project. Along the way, student branch counselor Azeem Khan and Graduate Student Member Nana-Ampofo Ampofo-Anti were on hand to give the student members design tips and technical guidance. In three months, a prototype was built that could deliver some 50 watts. This year, the student branch hopes to work with two other schools to install the turbine.
Sinha says he hopes the experience has inspired the high school students to consider engineering. “Some have already selected subjects to study that will help them qualify for an engineering program,” he says. And the IEEE student branch members learned a thing or two as well, according to Dandekar. “The mentors encouraged student members to think of the process as running a small business, with the high school students as employees who needed to be guided,” he says.

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