Link to Press Release in CU Newsroom
Clemson University Newsroom
July 14, 2010

NORTH CHARLESTON — As Clemson University undergraduate Leigh Allison prepares to start her sophomore year, the 19-year-old civil engineering major is spending her summer gaining valuable hands-on experience on a scale she could not receive anywhere else in the world.

For 10 weeks, Allison and fellow intern, 23-year-old industrial engineering major Seth Strickland, will work alongside the Clemson University Restoration Institute project team during the initial design phase of what will be the world’s largest wind-turbine drive-train testing facility.

Allison will work on the environmental assessment for the facility as a liaison between Clemson and the project’s environmental engineers to research and report any potential environmental impacts.

Strickland, a senior, is assisting with planning, layout and logistics of the testing facility.

This is the second time Allison has benefited from a Clemson internship in North Charleston. During the summer of 2007, immediately before her junior year at Academic Magnet High School, Allison shadowed engineers as they erected a 160-foot-tall wind-monitoring tower at the Restoration Institute.

The purpose of the project was to help determine the feasibility of offshore wind farms in South Carolina.

Along witih Allison and Strickland, electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate J. Curtiss Fox, 28, will spend 18 months at the Restoration Institute working on electrical simulation and design work for power-flow studies and transient response of the electrical equipment at the testing facility.

Fox received his bachelor’s (2005) and master’s (2008) degrees in electrical engineering from Clemson.

The three students will work under the supervision of Nick Rigas, director and senior scientist of the drive-train testing facility and the project’s manager.

Also related to the drive train project, 22-year-old mechanical engineering master’s degree student Kalyan Chakravarthy Addepalli (2011) is working on multi-body simulation of the facility’s drive-train test rigs. Addepalli is based at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville.

In November 2009 Clemson was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy from a highly competitive grant process to design, build and operate a facility capable of testing wind-turbine drive trains in the 5 megawatt to 15 megawatt range.

The $98 million facility will be the largest, most sophisticated drive-train testing facility in the world. The $45 million Energy Department grant, matched with $53 million of public and private funds, was the largest funding award in the university’s history.

John Kelly, Clemson University vice president of public service and agriculture and economic development, and executive director of the Restoration Institute, said the internships and hands-on opportunities do more than complement the students’ studies.

“At Clemson we educate students, but also help provide jobs for those students when they graduate,” Kelly said.

“The Restoration Institute is part of an emerging renewable-energy industry in South Carolina. We will need a well-qualified labor force — and we want those students to stay here in South Carolina when they enter the work force,” he said.