Wind energy competition aimed to engage young minds

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Dr. Benton Baugh,  is searching for young minds who can design and engineer the wind turbines of tomorrow. That was the goal of the first-ever Baugh Wind Energy Design Competition  held last Saturday, Oct. 29.

Kelly Cox, administrative assistant to the dean of engineering, said this competition was a chance for  middle and high school students  to show off their knowledge.

“The competition was an engineering event to test  young student’s knowledge of the properties of wind energy and invent better designs than we currently see in the world,” Cox said. “Professor Benton Baugh is a generous donor of the engineering department and is very passionate about wind energy and this, I believe, blossomed from his requests.”

Cox said the competition is a way to showcase and learn about young, intelligent students in the local community.

“We saw it as an excellent way to engage with young students and give back to the students who will be our future by investing in their programs as they mature and grow,” Cox said. “The competition was very unique in that teams could choose to compete in person on the day of the contest or virtually. We wanted to make good use of technology and save schools’ resources where we could. Cutting travel expense with the option of virtual entry allowed schools from further away to consider our competition.”

Cox said she credits Baugh with the idea for this competition. Cox also  said the reason behind the engineering of this competition is discover the inefficiency in our wind energy in this area.

“The basic idea of the contest attempts to capture any inefficiency in Wind Energy Design in our world today,” Cox said. “There is the idea that only a fraction of the potential wind energy in any given area around a turbine can be captured, and to attempt to capture any more energy than this percentage is supposedly mathematically unreasonable. Professor Baugh, however, believes that we are not maximizing the amount of potential energy in the swept area and that a greater number of lightweight blades would harness more of that potential energy.”

Cox said she hopes this competition is not the end of this engineering research connection Oklahoma Christian is building with the community.

“We would really like to see an improved research partnership between Oklahoma Christian’s engineering and local and homeschool students,” Cox said. “We believe that middle and high school students have great potential as engineers, scientists, computer scientists and mathematicians, and we would love to assist the growth of that potential with a Christian attitude and a heart for service.”

Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science Byron Newberry said he plans for this to be a new tradition.

“Our goal is to have an annual event,” Newberry said. “We will take what we have learned this year and adjust the competition for next year. The idea is to keep on engaging for the students. We would also desire to have more teams participate next year. This year we had just five teams total.”

Newberry said he and his staff are working on a program related to this for the spring.

“The OC Mechanical Engineering Program is also doing work related to wind energy,” Newberry said. “We currently have graduate research underway in this area and plan to have an undergraduate capstone design team start work on wind energy in the spring.”

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