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Central Washington University

Grad Student Harnesses Wind for Master's Project

Spring in Ellensburg means sunny days, flower blooms, baby cows, and farmers markets. And a bit of a breeze.

But while some people consider the wind a nuisance, Michael Waytuck sees opportunity. The CWU senior, who’s about to earn his master’s degree in engineering technology, is harnessing the wind for his graduate project.

Waytuck installed a wind turbine on the working roof of the Hogue Technology Building. Passersby on Dean Nicholson Boulevard can see it looking south.

“A wind turbine is perfect for Ellensburg because we have so much natural wind resource,” Waytuck said. “Plus it helps get people interested in renewable energy sources. It’s a good way to inspire the scientists and engineers who will work on energy solutions in the future.”

Waytuck grew up in Yakima and earned his bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering technology from CWU. He has always had an interest in technology and alternative energy, so the chance to work with a wind turbine was right up his alley. One day Waytuck would like to work on rocketry or satellite systems for a company such as SpaceX.

The wind turbine was purchased when Hogue was renovated and expanded about four years ago and has been in storage since. After determining everything worked, Waytuck went about finding a good spot on the roof for the turbine. Staff in the Facilities Management and Mechanical Engineering departments helped Waytuck design a special mounting piece, install the turbine, wire it, and tie it into the university’s power grid.

In the first two weeks of operation, it had produced about seven kilowatt hours of power — enough to run an LED TV 24 hours a day for one week. “That’s pretty good,” Waytuck says.

He is also working on the coding for the second piece of the project: logging the data and making it available on a digital kiosk for anybody who walks through Hogue. Viewers will be able to see real-time wind speed, wind direction, and power generation.

“What I like about Michael’s project is it encompasses pretty much the entire scheme of what you would see in an actual real world project: from design and development to implementation to troubleshooting, debugging, and also doing a project in a certain timeline and certain budget,” said Greg Lyman, an electronics engineering technician and lecturer at CWU. “I feel like the skills that he’s obtained throughout all those different aspects, he’s definitely job ready at that point.”

Waytuck will present his wind turbine project at SOURCE — the Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression. This year’s SOURCE is a two-day event May 18-19 in the Student Union and Recreation Center. Students studying at CWU centers in the Puget Sound area will present May 16 in Des Moines and May 17 in Lynnwood.

Media contact: Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841, BArnott@cwu.edu

May 13, 2016

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