by Ward Mullens, Published October 12, 2010
YPSILANTI - Larry Holmes, the group leader and master electrician at Eastern Michigan University, is generating some energy in the classroom when it comes to wind turbines.
Holmes, along with Jonathan Lin, professor of computer-aided engineering, recently teamed up to build a wind turbine.
Holmes financed buying the materials for making parts and Lin, along with his students, manufactured the parts, put them together and erected the wind turbine on Holmes' property in Fenton.
"I went around to different departments here and asked if anyone was doing anything with wind power," said Holmes. "I connected with Dr. Lin and we started working on this project over the summer."
The turbine was erected Sept. 25 on Holmes' property in Fenton. The turbine consists of a giant wooden propeller 12 feet in diameter that attaches to a 40-foot tower and moves 360 degrees.
The tail section of the turbine has an image of EMU mascot Swoop holding a lightning bolt.
The power generated from the wind will help cut Holmes' electric bill by an estimated one-third.
"It will run all of my lighting," said Holmes.
Aside from helping Holmes, Lin said the project was great experience for the students and will serve as the foundation of a pilot program he is working on with King High School in Detroit.
"The wind turbine project allowed us to integrate all of the areas of engineering - mechanical, electrical, manufacturing, computer, etc.... The students are able to put theory into practice," said Lin.
Lin is currently helping to train teachers at King High School so that they can have their classes build a wind turbine.
"This project brings science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects together. It is one of the best vehicles because it's hands-on and the students get to see how all of these things go together," Lin said.
Lin said that if the pilot program is successful, he hopes that as many as 30 schools and 99 science teachers will eventually participate.
Beyond Detroit and Michigan, Lin said this project could have an international impact.
"This could be good for Third World countries such as Indonesia, Africa, South America and India," said Lin. "Places that do not have electricity, but where manpower is cheaper. We can teach them how to make it and they will be able to do it cheaper."
"We want the project to become sustainable," said Lin.