GE engineer discusses wind turbines with grade 7 science students

Drawing of a wind turbineFEBRUARY 15, 2017

Grade 7 students today learned about something that they may not be able to imagine: huge wind turbines that tower hundreds of feet into the air, have blades that stretch 150 feet long and cost million of dollars.

GE Mechanical Engineer Christopher Swiecicki, whose niece Cassanda is in the ninth period class taught by Neal Cummings, discussed his job as a Root Cause Analyst/Root Cause Investigator – the guy who tries to find out why the big turbines fail.

He brought a three-foot section of a turbine wing to show the students as well as the gear he uses to climb up inside one during his investigations.

Swiecicki showed a video showing how the turbines are assembled as well as a presentation reviewing renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydrogen cells) and non- renewable energy sources (oil, gas, nuclear). The class just finished studying the types of energy sources.

Students asked Swiecicki many questions, including: how are the turbines put in place? how is the tower put together? how does electricity come out of the turbines? why do they get damaged? where to you put them?

“There is more (wind) energy on the top of a mountain, much more than at the bottom of the mountain,” he said. “We try to put them on the top of the mountain if we can.”

Swiecicki gave students a few facts about wind turbines: each blade weighs 5-10 tons and it takes 1,500 people (electricians, designers, laborers, truck drivers, engineers) to develop each turbine from beginning to end. Last year, GE shipped 2,000 turbines to locations all over the world. A 1.5 megawatt turbine produces enough power for 700 homes.

He also provided foam wind turbines to students to assemble at the end of class as well as small foam versions.

Here are a few pictures from today’s lesson. Click on the image to enlarge it.