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Texas Tech Combines Wind Research, Education into National Wind Institute

NWI strengthens the already solid interdisciplinary approach to all things wind.

Written by Sally Logue Post

NWI has formed major partnerships to create the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) Facility to focus on wind plant optimization.

NWI has formed major partnerships to create the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) Facility to focus on wind plant optimization.

Texas Tech University has created the National Wind Institute (NWI) to better support the interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities in wind science, engineering and energy.

The announcement comes today (May 6) from Texas Tech officials at the American Wind Energy Association WINDPOWER 2013 Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

The institute combines the former Wind Science and Engineering (WiSE) research center and the Texas Wind Energy Institute (TWEI) into one entity. For NWI Director John Schroeder, the move strengthens the already solid interdisciplinary approach to all things wind.

“Wherever wind is involved, there is a strong link between the engineering disciplines and atmospheric science,” he said. “Texas Tech has focused on this link with decades of organic interdisciplinary research and educational activities. Recently, we’ve added economists, lawyers, policy experts, cyber security experts and business professionals to broaden our team even farther.”

All of the university’s wind-related educational opportunities will now fall under the new institute. WiSE created the first doctorate in wind science and engineering. TWEI offers the only Bachelor of Science degree in wind energy as well as a variety of graduate and professional development certificates.

“Texas Tech’s wind research and educational opportunities have always been interdisciplinary,” said Michael San Francisco, interim vice president for research. “The establishment of NWI builds on Texas Tech’s commitment to transdisciplinary research and will provide a better foundation for collaboration and support for our wind efforts.”

Texas Tech has expanded into the wind energy sector, but continues to provide a strong focus on the inherent link between engineering and atmospheric science.

Texas Tech has expanded into the wind energy sector, but continues to provide a strong focus on the inherent link between engineering and atmospheric science.

Texas Tech’s wind research dates back to 1970. Following a May 11 tornado that killed 26 people and destroyed large sections of the city, faculty representing the university’s civil engineering department and atmospheric sciences group began to think what could be done to minimize the effects of severe wind events such as tornado’s and hurricanes on lives and structures.

In the past 15 years, Texas Tech has expanded into the wind energy sector, but continued to provide a strong focus on the inherent link between engineering and atmospheric science. Current projects include measuring wind farm complex flows, evaluating turbine-to-turbine interaction, enhancing wind turbine power performance, grid integration, and next-generation energy storage.

NWI has also formed a major partnership with Sandia National Laboratories; Vestas, a leading turbine manufacturer; and Group NIRE, a clean energy company providing project development, finance and consulting services to create the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) Facility to focus on wind plant optimization.

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