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A Multipurpose Windmill Design Project

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.30.1 - 3.30.6



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Paper Authors

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Linda V. Itzoe

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Charles A. Gaston

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Janice Margle

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1547

A Multipurpose Windmill Design Project

Charles A. Gaston, Linda V. Itzoe, Janice M. Margle Penn State - York / Penn State - Abington College


There is growing recognition of the value of having engineering design projects in the freshman curriculum1. The Windmill Project described here not only provides a design challenge, but incorporates elements of team-building, laboratory data collection, engineering design calculations and optimized testing procedures. If desired, the project can be expanded to include significant research and writing on the history of windmills or on ecological issues.

A key element of this project is a windmill test stand that enables simultaneous measurement of torque and speed. This test stand can be built from readily-available materials, at reasonable cost, with simple tools. It can be collapsed quickly into a small bundle convenient to transport or store.

With different levels of expectation, this project can be appropriate for class levels from high school to at least the sophomore year of engineering.


It has become widely recognized in both Engineering and Engineering Technology that the old approach of developing basic skills in math and physics before beginning any design courses can turn off some students and scare away others. For example, the University of Florida experienced a dramatic increase in retention associated with a lab-based rather than a lecture- based Introduction to Engineering2. It is important to introduce students to the challenge and excitement of engineering design early in the college experience for many reasons, some of which are: (1) It shows the relevance and importance of having a good command of basic math and physics. (ET students in particular tend to be impatient with theory and abstract reasoning if they cannot see practical applications.) (2) It provides a taste of real engineering design. (Those who like it get more excited about their curriculum choice; those who don't like it may choose a different major sooner.) (3) It helps develop teamwork skills. (These design projects usually are intended for teams of two or more.) (4) It helps develop manual technical skills. (Today it seems that entering engineering and technology students are more likely to be familiar with computers than with wrenches, saws, soldering irons and measuring instruments.)

Some projects intended or touted as design projects turn out to involve a great deal of creativity but little or no design. The venerable "egg drop" is one example. Students may have a great time

Itzoe, L. V., & Gaston, C. A., & Margle, J. (1998, June), A Multipurpose Windmill Design Project Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7302

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