April 14, 2024

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WESEP: Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy


The Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy (WESEP) IGERT, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is a five-year interdisciplinary project to train PhD students1 in Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy, in partnership with the University of Puerto-Rico at Mayagüez. It has participation from faculty at Iowa State University from 12 departments in three different colleges: the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This program produces graduates who will lead the nation to a high wind energy portfolio.

The research will advance wind energy knowledge through three research objectives: increase the rate of wind energy growth, decrease the cost of wind energy, and extend penetration limits. There are five research thrusts:

  1. Wind resource characterization and aerodynamics of wind farms
  2. Wind energy conversion systems and grid operations
  3. Manufacturing, construction, and supply chain
  4. Reliability and health monitoring
  5. Wind economics, policy, and public perception

The education program includes a 3-6 month industry internship, a 3-month international experience, and a 3-level curriculum where each student takes 2 introductory WESEP courses to provide breadth, 8 core courses in 2 different thrusts to provide interdisciplinary research strength, and 3 specialization courses to provide advanced training and depth in WESEP. Trainees and faculty will participate every semester in a real-time research collaborative (RTRC), where students experience the full research cycle while considering the cognitive approaches to research used in different disciplines while exposing underlying differences in problem conceptualization and solution approach. Dissemination goals that impact the wind energy community, including academia, industry, and government will be achieved via innovative course sharing arrangements, distance education, international collaborations, an industrial project advisory board having members from 20 companies, and K-12 mentoring programs.  Trainees will leave WESEP well-prepared to deal with technical, economic, and social challenges necessary to advance wind energy production to meet our national need.

1 Students admitted to the WESEP PhD program and financially supported as IGERT fellows must have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, but students may be admitted to the WESEP PhD program and financially supported as research assistants need not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency.  The difference between an IGERT fellow and a research assistant is that IGERT fellows are paid a $30k annual stipend for two years of their PhD program, after which they become a research assistant; the stipend for research assistants is lower.