Celebrating 40 Years of Wind Energy

It all started over 40 years ago, when UMass led the way nationally in research into alternative energies.  On June 6, 2014, MA Senator Stanley Rosenberg read a proclamation congratulating the UMass Wind Energy Center on its “contributions to advancing education and research”, in the field of wind energy. This was in honor of the gathering “Celebrating 40 Years of Wind Energy”, a reunion of wind energy alumni held in conjunction with Alumni Weekend. This Proclamation was of the highest order, having been voted on and approved by both Houses of the State Legislature and entered into the official state historical ledgers.

Alumni and other participants came from all over the world to remember and learn. A massive planning effort over the preceding year, coordinated by Marcia Heronemus-Pate, pulled together:

  • Material for the Special Collections- University Archives (SCUA). Robert Cox , Head of SCUA, and his team not only collected these items for preservation, but will make them easily accessible through a newly created, archival web-site http://scua.library.umass.edu/wind/oral-history/.  Alumni and faculty will continue  building the content for these special collections as SCUA personnel continue to de-code the history and upload to this web-site.
  • A multi-media narrated documentary of the history of the wind energy program, soon to be uploaded to the WEC and SCUA web sites:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8d7thr-Mrg
  • A video from Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, memorializing his mentors Prof Emeritus Wm. E Heronemus and Dr. Forrest (Woody) Stoddard.
  • A photo slide show of over 140 photos documenting projects, students, and alumni work throughout the US history of wind projects, also soon to be uploaded to the Wind Energy Center website:  http://www.umass.edu/windenergy/  .
  • Recovery and shipping to UMass of a wind turbine blade to be rehabilitated by current students for a new campus monument to be installed in 2015 (est.) The blade was from a US Windpower  56-100 wind turbine, produced  in the 80s by a company founded in 1974 by UMass wind energy alumni.
  • A permanent  display  commemorating  the Solar Habitat and Wind Furnace-1 (WF-1), a wind turbine built by students, faculty and staff on the UMass campus in the mid-1970s, was mounted in Gunness Lab in honor of William E. Heronemus, Prof. Emeritus.
  • A program of reunion events held over 3 days at UMass Amherst – over 200 wind alumni and others connected with the Wind Energy Center were contacted to invite them to the celebration.

On June 5th the wind alumni reunion events commenced with a road trip to Boston Harbor to view the Wind Technology Testing Center for large wind turbine blades and a boating excursion to the Hull wind turbines, which was followed that evening with a reception and a formalized series of recollections and history of alumni in the program.

Friday kicked off a very full day, most of which was recorded and uploaded to http://bit.ly/1na3rly The morning session included a welcome from Don Fisher, Chair of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and a panel discussion “The Inception and 40 year History”, moderated by Prof. James Manwell, Wind Energy Center Director.  Panel speakers included UMass faculty and distinguished alumni of the UMass wind energy program.

A lunch program included video greetings from Amory Lovins, and a speaker, Dr. Hal Wallace of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History who spoke speak about the targeted future for the UMass WF-1 wind turbine which is now housed at the Smithsonian

The Friday afternoon program featured a panel discussion on “Climate Change and Renewable Energy”.  The wind reunion events concluded with a reception and dinner with keynote speaker, Francis Koster,'82,  EdD, who spoke on “How We Can Meet the Basic Life Support Needs of the Future”.

More information on the historically important role of the UMass wind energy program worldwide may also be found in Wind Power for the World: The Rise of Modern Wind Energy, by Maegaard, Krenz and Palz, Pan Stanford Series on Renewable Energy, 2013.