For the past four years, UMass Amherst has hosted the Clean Energy Connections Conference at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, MA. The conference is an excellent learning opportunity and networking event that features local businesses, university groups and prominent speakers that are invested in the clean tech industry. This year, the UMass Amherst Alumni Association introduced the Alumni Clean Energy Award, which was presented during the afternoon session of the Clean Energy Connections conference.
Walter Musial is the first-ever recipient of this award. He graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1980 and a Master’s Degree in 1983. Studying Mechanical Engineering in an Energy Option program that was available at that time, he specialized in all aspects of renewable energy and energy conversion with a focus on wind energy. His primary advisor was Professor Duane Cromack, who eventually convinced him to attend graduate school.
Bill Heronemus and Professor James Manwell also served on his thesis committee; he was Manwell’s first graduate student. It was Manwell, current professor and Director of the UMass Wind Energy Center, who presented Walter with his award. Musial was recognized for his contributions to the wind energy center at UMass, a program that Musial now says was “way ahead of its time.”
Walter is now a principal engineer and the manager of Offshore Wind and Ocean Power Systems at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. He has been there for 23 years and initiated the offshore wind energy research program there in 2003. He is the primary technical contact to the Department of Energy on offshore wind and has helped the DOE establish their offshore program.
Before NREL, Musial was employed in the commercial wind energy industry in California and worked for two companies which were both founded by UMass alumnus, including ESI Inc. and U.S. Windpower. Walter has authored over 50 publications and has one patent on the fatigue method used to test full scale wind turbine blades using linear resonant excitation.
He gave an engaging presentation about the history of wind energy in the United States and incorporated personal anecdotes about his experiences with the blossoming technology. Walter had the following words of encouragement for students who are pursuing alternative energy studies:
“The shift to sustainable energy solutions is a global imperative. Be confident that your efforts to develop these technologies are necessary for the prosperity, if not the survival, of future generations.”
For more information about the UMass Wind Energy Center : http://www.umass.edu/windenergy/