TNCC Awarded $10,000 Grant for New Wind Turbine Technology Course

Published: October 12, 2010

Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation to explore wind turbine technology and design. TNCC was one of four Virginia colleges to receive funding from the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources. All grants were awarded to support programs in skilled craft, engineering, environmental and technical studies, business, and student-led conservation programs.

Michael Uenking, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at TNCC, said the grant will fund “Topics in Energy Technology: Wind Turbine Blade Development and Testing,” a new elective course that will incorporate Mechanical Engineering Technology, Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, and Electrical Engineering Technology, all of which directly relate to current Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives. Uenking developed the course with TNCC faculty Deborah Lichniak, Assistant Professor and Program Head of Electronics Technology; Tom Pringle, Instructor and Program Head of Computer-Aided Drafting and Design; and Julie Young, Assistant Professor and Program Head of Mechanical Engineering Technology.

The course will be available to up to 20 students each spring semester. Students will build a scaled-down wind tunnel, create prototypes of various residential wind turbine blades using various computer-aided drafting tools and plastics manufacturing machines, and create scaled-up carbon-fiber epoxy resin duplicates of their plastic wind turbine blades. They will install these carbon fiber wind turbine blades and test them in the scaled-down wind tunnel and determine the efficiency of the blades with respect to power output and generation.

The experience students will gain in the course pertain to a myriad of careers, including blade repair technician, wind technician, and turbine commissioner. Salaries for these positions range from $35,000 to $85,000. “With the current push for alternative energy sources, students at TNCC need to be given an opportunity to explore at least one form of content related to this field. This gives them some experience and sets the foundation for the pursuit of baccalaureate degree programs that delve into alternative and green energy research,” Uenking said.

Thomas Nelson offers degrees in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design Technology, Electronics Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology and more. For information about the new course and other programs at TNCC, please call 825-2700 or visit

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