As the need for skilled wind technicians grows in the United States, Iberdrola Renewables is committed to increasing the traning opportunities for those interested in wind energy. In 2001, we donated $100,000 to Iowa Lakes Community College in the midwestern United States to build a new classroom and to accommodate the surge of students interested in wind technology.
Recently I had an opportunity to speak with Brian McLaren, former Iowa Lakes Community College wind technology student, about his special contribution to the wind technician traning program. McLaren is an avid builder of small-scale replicas. He has generously donated one of his finest pieces, an 8-by-8 foot replica of wind energy on a farm, to the Wind Energry and Turbine Technology program at Iowa Lakes Community College.
McLaren: like so many Americans, I experienced hardship during the economic downturn in 2009. When my father, son and I went to a movie after Christmas of that year, I had no idea that my life would change as we sat in that dark theater. A commercial about the wind technicians at Iowa Lakes Community College played, and as I watched the story of the college and the jobs opportunities offered to graduates, my mouth dropped. I knew I needed to learn more about becoming a wind technician.
I’d barely gotten my family in the door before I rushed to my computer and found the Iowa Lakes Community College website. I immediately applied for the Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program. I was soon accepted into the program. I was so excited! I sold my business and organized my life so I could move to Iowa.
What was life like in the Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program?
McLaren: at Iowa Lakes Community College, my passion for wind energy grew, thanks in part to state-of-the-art classrooms such as the Iberdrola room. To gain as much experience with wind energy as possible, I became the treasurer (then president) of the Iowa Lakes Wind Energy Club. I also spent a week in Washington, D.C. with TRIO Student Support Services, a federal outreach and student services program. During my trip, I met and shared my love of wind energy with senators and house leaders.
How did you build an 8-by-8 foot replica of wind technology in use on a farm?
McLaren: since childhood, I have collected 1/64-scale farm toys and have always wanted to compete at the national level. So I built a farm/wind display for the 2011 National Farm Toy Show in Dyersville, Iowa. The original display is 8 feet-by-8 feet with 1/64-scale farm toys and features a model GE 1.5 turbine, 1/64-scale, built of balsa wood and mounted on a 4 feet-by-8 feet sheet of 2-inch thick Styrofoam.
What does the future hold for this replica?
McLaren: I was disappointed that my display didn’t win an award in the 2011 National Farm Toy Show, but because so many members of the audience loved it, I knew this display could teach others about wind energy. I donated the wind turbine display to the Iowa Lakes Community College Wind Energy Program so future students, visitors, and children can use this model as a learning tool and a visual reference. It’s a homecoming of sorts for this display!