SMCC students to help high school students produce blades for Maine Wind Blade Challenge

Friday, April 11, 10 a.m.-noon Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center Southern Maine Community College, 29 Sewall St., Brunswick

BRUNSWICK, Maine-Southern Maine Community College students are helping teams of high school students produce wind turbine blades for a statewide competition that tests students' blade-manufacturing skills. SMCC is a leader is US composite technology education.

Six teams of students from Mid-Coast and Southern Maine will make wind blades at SMCC's Midcoast Campus on Friday as part of the fifth annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge.

For the competition, high school teams work with composites professionals to perfect their products and give them a first-hand look at composite-manufacturing operations. This year, six of the teams will make their wind blades with help from students who are enrolled in SMCC's Composite Technology program. Representatives from Harbor Technologies in Brunswick and Custom Composite Technologies in Bath will also be on hand to provide support and materials.

"We are pleased to give high school students the opportunity to learn more about the growing field of composites," said Andy Schoenberg, chairman of the Composite Technology program. "They'll have a hands-on learning experience while gaining a broad understanding of the diverse ways composites are used in a wide range of industries."

The Maine Composites Alliance (MCA), a coalition of composite businesses in Maine, created the Maine Wind Blade Challenge to spur student interest in composites while teaching them about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, through hands-on experience. The program is operated in partnership with their sister organization, The Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative. MCA is also a direct partner with SMCC in establishing the Composites Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) on the Brunswick Campus. CERL is a state of the art facility with unique capabilities.

For the Wind Blade Challenge, students design, manufacture and test the blades before competing against other teams in a one-day contest to determine who created the most efficient blades. This year's competition will be held May 2 at the University of Maine.

SMCC's Composites Technology program prepares students for high-demand jobs working with composites. It is one of only two composite degree programs found in the US. Because composites are used in such a wide range of industries, graduates end up working in fields ranging from microelectronics, and industrial manufacturing to boatbuilding, construction and even aerospace.

The program is located in the Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center on the college's Brunswick campus.MATEC is also the home to the Composites Engineering Research Laboratory, a partnership between SMCC and the Maine Composites Alliance that provides research for companies involved in composites manufacturing and training for students.

The Maine Composites Alliance is an alliance of composite businesses in Maine who work together to recognize and promote Maine's leadership in the international composite industry. We enhance the competitiveness of Maine's existing composite industry and our members by providing opportunities for new commercial ventures, and by providing education and training for members and their employees.

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) is Maine's largest and oldest community college. Founded in 1946, SMCC offers courses at its South Portland and Brunswick campuses, at 10 community satellite locations and online. SMCC has the lowest tuition and fees in New England and offers more than 45 degree programs.

Wind Blade Challenge was created to inspire, motivate, engage, and introduce students to the world of STEM education, composites and alternative energy with the purpose of building a strong workforce in the composite and alternative energy industries. Students from past competitions are now working in the Maine composites, wind industry and/or continued their education in STEM fields.

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