NORTH CHARLESTON — A group of students from across South Carolina are gaining valuable hands-on experience on a scale they could not receive anywhere else in the world.

For 10 weeks this summer, seven interns will work alongside the Clemson University Restoration Institute project team and partners statewide during the detailed design and initial construction of what will be the world’s largest wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility.

This year’s interns at the Restoration Institute are:

  • Lucas Bryson, a Clemson University civil engineering senior from Anderson, will work on key aspects of the deconstruction and preconstruction of the existing testing facility building.
  • Nick Willis, a Clemson University a senior in electrical engineering from Prosperity, will work on electrical design simulation with electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate J. Curtiss Fox.
  • Philip Meyer, a physics graduate of the College of Charleston who studied under physics and astronomy assistant professor Narayanan Kuthirummal, will work on a direct torque-measurement system for the drivetrain test rigs.
  • Leigh Allison, a junior Clemson biosystems engineering major from Mount Pleasant, will work with the building’s contractor toward the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of the building.

This is the third time Allison has benefited from a Clemson internship in North Charleston. During the summer of 2007, immediately before her junior year at Academic Magnet High School, Allison shadowed engineers as they erected a 160-foot wind-monitoring tower at the Restoration Institute.

Last summer, Allison worked on the environmental assessment for the facility as a liaison between Clemson and the project’s environmental engineers.

All interns will work under the supervision of Nick Rigas, Clemson University senior scientist and director of the drivetrain testing facility, and project manager Jim Tuten.

Also related to the drivetrain project, two Clemson University interns are based at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken.

Andrew Brownlow, a junior, is a civil engineering student from Aiken. He will work on vibration analysis models and software for the drivetrain test rigs. Tyler Shake, a senior, is an electrical engineering student from Aiken who will support the testing facility data-collection systems, among other initiatives.

At the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, mechanical engineering master’s degree student Kalyan Chakravarthy Addepalli will work on multibody simulation of the facility’s test rigs.

John Kelly, Clemson University vice president for economic development and executive director of the Restoration Institute, said the internships and hands-on opportunities do more than complement the students’ studies.

“We have wonderful educators at Clemson, but we want our students to stay in South Carolina after they graduate,” Kelly said. “Internships at the Restoration Institute and at our partners will show these students they have a bright future in their home state, and show potential employers what they have to offer.”

The $98 million testing facility, which was funded by a $45 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and matched by $53 million of public and private funds, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

The facility will be capable of full-scale highly accelerated testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines in the five-megawatt to 15-megawatt range, with a 30 percent overload capacity.

A drivetrain takes energy generated by a turbine’s blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car.

The award was the largest single grant ever received by the university and places one of the most important sites for wind energy research and development in South Carolina.

The project’s founding partners are: The Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; the S.C. Department of Commerce; the state of South Carolina; S.C. Public Railways; S.C. State Ports Authority; and private partners Renk Labeco Test Systems, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.

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