Students build alternative energy machines through UH summer program

A University of Hawaii Manoa summer school program is bringing textbooks to life.

“They work by taking the wind, and the wind catches the turbine at the top and spins the shaft. The shaft goes into a gear abduction system, which will be connected to an alternator,” UH Manoa student Tylynn Ai said.

The product of a 10-week program that tries to make the class experience as real world as possible.

“This is as realistic as it gets as far as the teams managing their own budgets, timelines, teams, and resources. And as you can see actual manufacturing,” UH Manoa engineering student Michael Menendez said.

Teaching valuable lessons like teamwork.

“Around 15 students, and we divided them into three groups. And each group made their own wind turbine design. And they incorporated wind and solar,” UH Manoa engineering student Jessie Hay said.

Many of the parts making up the turbines are from junk yards.

Students from neighbor island community colleges also got to take part in the Manoa program.

“It’s actually a really good experience. I mean you build something and then you actually see it work. It’s coming out of the pages of your book, and you’re supplying the theory,” UH Maui College student Lindsay Komai said.

It’s a good opportunity to get students out of the classroom.

“I think when you’re in engineering school and you’re behind the textbooks you kind of don’t know what to do after your graduate. And I think this gives you a step ahead because you learn how to think, too,” Ai said.

And perhaps a step into a new area of engineering.

“I would definitely say that renewable energy is becoming a larger thing. And potentially becoming its own field,” Menendez said.

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