Engineer infront of windmill

A wind energy engineer could...


Be part of a team that installs a wind energy farm in the ocean. Wind farm in the ocean Analyze annual wind speed and direction data to determine the best location for a wind farm. Wind map
Test a new wind-turbine blade design in an air tunnel. Wind tunnel Work with vendors to design and fabricate custom electrical components. Electrical component
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Key Facts & Information

Overview Every day the Earth provides us with many sources of renewable energy to power our lifestyles. Wind energy is an example of a renewable energy because wind is a naturally replenished source. But how can energy be extracted efficiently from the wind? Sounds like a job for a wind energy engineer! The wind energy engineer works on modeling, designing, and building wind turbines and wind farms. These engineers are passionate about wind, renewable energy, and the environment, and they enjoy applying their math and science skills.
Key Requirements Problem-solving skills, persistence, innovative mind, critical-thinking skills, excellent oral and written communication skills, ability to work effectively independently and on teams
Minimum Degree Bachelor's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Chemistry, physics, geometry, algebra II, calculus; if available, computer science, statistics
Median Salary
Wind Energy Engineer
  $99,040
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
  $49,630
Min Wage
  $15,080
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Little or No Change (-2% to 2%)
Interview
  • Kathryn Johnson is a professor at the Colorado School of Mines. She is working on making wind turbines more energy efficient and reliable. Read this interview with her to learn more about her life.
  • In this video about wind energy, discover how wind turbines work and listen to experts discuss where to place wind turbines and how to get the most from the wind.
  • In this short interview, Tom Zambrano discusses many topics, including how architects might work with engineers to build wind turbines on the tops of buildings!
Related Occupations
Source: O*Net

Education and Training

A bachelor's degree in engineering, such as electrical, aeronautical, aerospace, mechanical, or civil, is required for a position as a wind energy engineer. Individuals who wish to conduct research at a governmental laboratory, university, or for a corporation are encouraged to seek an advanced degree. Most employers prefer to hire candidates with previous experience.

Other Qualifications

Wind energy engineers should be creative, analytical, and detail oriented. They must be able to communicate effectively with a variety of professionals, including vendors, technicians, and project managers.

Watch this video of Auburn Cooperman, an aeronautical researcher who works on designing wind turbine blades. She gets to test her models out in a wind tunnel!

Nature of the Work

Wind energy engineers are responsible for designing, building, and monitoring wind turbines and wind turbine farms. These engineers get to combine their math, science, and engineering skills with their interest in the environment. Wind energy engineers work to create alternative energy solutions to the problems of how we humans are going to power our lives in the future. They are employed by government laboratories, universities, and private corporations.

Wind energy engineers are involved in all diverse phases of extracting energy from the wind. They can model the potential of extracting energy from a possible farm site. In this case, they work with meteorologists to make sure that they understand the long-term weather patterns in the area. They design special materials for turbine blades that have special stress and fatigue characteristics. They apply the principles of aerodynamics to design efficient turbine blades and perform analysis. Because wind energy engineers design blades, employers look for candidates who are experts in computer aided design (or CAD). They work on constructing wind energy farms and on installing wind turbines. They design the electrical systems that are necessary for the wind turbines to operate at peak performance. The job is not done when the wind farm is installed. Wind energy engineers are constantly monitoring the operation of the wind farm by acquiring and analyzing data collected from the wind turbines. These engineers are also responsible for developing programs to improve the wind turbines' performance and reduce the cost of long-term operations. Since wind energy engineers can work on a wide variety of projects, they come from diverse engineering backgrounds. Wind energy engineers can be trained as aeronautics engineers, material scientists, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, and electrical engineers.

Work Environment

Most wind energy engineers work in office buildings, laboratories, or industrial plants. Others may spend time outdoors at construction sites, where they monitor or direct operations, or solve on-site problems. When working on site they may have to deal with harsh conditions. Engineers responsible for monitoring wind turbines must be physically able to climb towers exceeding 100 meters and must be comfortable at these heights. Some engineers must travel extensively to visit plant or work sites as well as clients both in the U.S. and abroad.

On the Job

  • Design underground or overhead wind-farm collector systems.
  • Analyze operation of wind farms or wind farm components to determine reliability, performance, and compliance with specifications.
  • Create models to optimize the layout of wind-farm access roads, crane pads, crane paths, collection systems, substations, switch yards, or transmission lines.
  • Create or maintain layouts, schematics, or other visual documentation for wind farms.
  • Develop active-control algorithms, electronics, software, and electromechanical or electrohydraulic systems for wind turbines.
  • Develop specifications for wind technology components, such as gearboxes, blades, generators, frequency converters, and pad transformers.
  • Direct balance of plant (or BOP) construction, generator installation, testing, commissioning, or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) to ensure compliance with specifications.
  • Monitor wind farm construction to ensure compliance with regulatory standards or environmental requirements.
  • Perform root cause analysis on wind-turbine tower component failures.
  • Provide engineering technical support to designers of prototype wind turbines.
  • Test wind turbine components, using mechanical or electronic testing equipment.
  • Test wind turbine equipment to determine effects of stress or fatigue.
  • Investigate experimental wind turbines or wind turbine technologies for properties such as aerodynamics, production, noise, and load.
  • Oversee the work activities of wind farm consultants or subcontractors.
  • Recommend process or infrastructure changes to improve wind turbine performance, reduce operational costs, or comply with regulations.
  • Write reports to document wind-farm collector system test results.

Companies That Hire Wind Energy Engineers

Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...

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Science Fair Project Idea
Alternative energy sources are a big deal these days. One such source is the wind. Find out how a wind turbine can use the power of the wind to generate energy in this science fair engineering project. You'll design various blades to find out which produces the most energy, and put the wind to work for you! Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
On a windy day it is hard to keep your hat on! The power of the wind can even be strong enough to power large wind turbines to make electricity! In this experiment, find out how you can make your own instrument to measure the speed and power of the wind. How does it work? Read more
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How do you feel when you ride your bike into a strong wind? Do your legs feel like lead? How about when the wind is at your back? Does that make you feel ready for the Tour de France? In this science fair project, you will investigate how wind-powered devices, like pinwheels, also react in different ways to the direction of the wind. Read more
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Coal, gas, and oil are energy resources that are not renewable, meaning that once we use up the world's supply of these natural resources there will not be any left. There is a lot of debate about how long these resources will last. One way to ensure that we will not find ourselves in an energy crisis is to develop energy resources that are renewable. Renewable energy is a resource that cannot be used up. Investigate the many uses of renewable energy: solar energy, wind energy,… Read more
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So you've just heard the "Happy Birthday" song and now it's time to blow out the candles. If you are sitting far away from the candles, you know you'll have to blow harder to get them all out than if you were sitting closer. In this science fair project, you'll blow on different kinds of pinwheels with a blow-dryer and see how far away you can get before they stop spinning. This will give you clues about how sensitive the pinwheels are to wind, and why. So come spin your wheels and get… Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
Try different wind turbine/propeller (chord length, pitch) designs by making models from balsa wood. Connect the spinning axle to a DC motor and measure the voltage produced across a resistor to measure power output. Use fan as wind source. (Judge, 2004) Read more
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Watch out! It's Eddy Vortex, Superhero! He swirls, he tumbles, he churns up air and water! OK, maybe eddies and vortices aren't exactly superheroes, but they are powerful regions of air and water flow that you have to watch out for in some surprising places. Try out this science fair project to discover why, as well as where and how to find them. Read more
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Have you ever watched how trees sway and bend in a strong wind? Have you ever thought about all the homes that could be powered with forces from the wind? In this project you'll discover, through trees, good places in your community for generating wind power. Read more

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