Wind Energy Focus of Earth Day Event
By Jillian Delaney
Fairfield University sponsored a host of eco-friendly events in the weeks surrounding Earth Day, including an intriguing presentation entitled, “Green Technology: A Start-Up’s Story.”
Dr. Michael J. Werle, founder and senior technical advisor of FloDesign Wind Turbine Corporation, visited the Kelley Center on April 23 to deliver the talk that explored the future of green technology. The theme of Dr. Werle’s lecture was the importance of combining environmentally friendly technology with a marketing strategy. He also highlighted the process involved in establishing a start-up company, and spoke of the development of new technologies.
“The past five to ten years have created opportunities regarding sustainability,” explained Dr. Werle, a former faculty member of the University of Cincinnati and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. His impressive career began as a researcher in the United States Navy Department Laboratories and continued as Head of Gas Dynamics and Thermophysics Lab, Research Division within United Technologies Corporations.
According to Dr. Werle, wind energy is one of the most reliable sources of energy. It is renewable, clean, easy to install, secure, and economically cost effective. Referring to his company, FloDesign, Werle told the audience of more than 60 people that he’s “done the business aspect and the science aspect” and described how to accomplish both. When asked how his presentation fit into Fairfield University’s Earth Day events, Werle shared that FloDesign’s dual focus is green power and expanding its presence. Dr. Werle related that it is “not good enough to have an idea,” you “have to match it with an opportunity.” He explained that FloDesign’s wind turbine differs from other wind turbines in that it has a higher efficiency, a low LEC (levelized cost of energy), lower noise level and a state of the art generator. It is also avian friendly and easy to transport.
Dr. Werle gave many pieces of advice during his presentation, which included the encouraging statement: “It is never too late - have an idea and go for it!”
Dr. Shahrokh Etemad, chairman and associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at Fairfield, felt that Dr. Werle had the “right balance between business and technology.” He expressed how presentations such as this one expose students to real world situations.
Students thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.
“Dr. Werle and his ideas about sustainability are making an enormous impact on society,” said Julian Prada '13, a mechanical engineer. “His technical expertise and business accomplishments characterize Werle as an inspiration for all engineers.”
Andrew Jackowitz '13, a mechanical engineer, found it to be a learning experience. “Bringing in stimulating speakers like Dr. Werle for the Fairfield University ASME Student Chapter really gives students the opportunity to gain some extra knowledge outside of the classroom,” he said.
LEAF (Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield) member Rebecca Williams, ’15, observed, “Wind turbines are genius! They are great for energy and have minimal impact on the environment. Plus turbines are reliable -wind never goes away.”
In addition to being a member of Connecticut Innovations’ Technical Advisory Board, Dr. Werle is a past member of Connecticut’s Board of Governors for Higher Education, as well as a former president of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.
The presentation was organized by the Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford chapters of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; Inventors Association of Connecticut; Engineering Student Society; Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield (LEAF); the Environmental Studies Program; Dolan School of Business; and the School of Engineering.