What is a Wind Energy Engineer?
A Wind Energy Engineer is a specialized type of Engineer. Also known as: Wind Engineer, Turbine Measurements Engineer, Wind Science and Planning Engineer, Wind Turbine Design Engineer, Wind Energy Consultant.
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A wind energy engineer is someone who harnesses the power of wind to feed a power grid or other electrical power system by designing wind farms, or their components. Alternatively, a wind energy engineer may supervise the manufacture of rotor blades or other components.
Wind energy engineering involves the process of designing wind farms, and refers to all aspects of the design process. It involves developing site specifications, planning, manufacturing and testing all hardware and electrical components, and even building roads and transporting components to installation sites. Many different types of engineers play a role in wind energy projects, such as aerospace, civil, mechanical, electrical, and environmental engineers, among others.
How to Become a Wind Energy Engineer
What does a Wind Energy Engineer do?
Wind energy engineers create wind energy collection systems that will utilize the natural power of moving air to create electricity. They work on wind farm installations, design farm layouts, create schematics, do analyses to optimize the designs and layouts of roads and transmission lines, and make recommendations to upgrade and streamline operations.
Some wind energy engineers only focus on hardware design turbines, rotor blades, electrical systems, and energy production systems. They analyze the aerodynamic properties of new designs, run tests, and document test results. Some oversee the manufacturing and testing of components, and also estimate budget and scheduling requirements for manufacturing processes.
Wind energy engineers may also be involved in evaluating issues of compliance with health and safety codes. They may be involved in issues with land-use or other local laws in specific municipalities, which may provide important guidance on how to build a specific wind energy system in a given location.
Engineers who are working on wind energy systems will often take on specific technical and mechanical tasks related to certain elements of these systems. This includes building or maintaining turbines for a specific scale, or outfitting an existing turbine or generator with specific accessories. Wind energy engineer professionals also often work on creating models or schematics for prototypes of wind power applications.
Because there are many different factors involved in designing such complex systems, several different types of engineers find work in wind energy design. The following engineers work together to construct efficient wind farms that make clean, renewable energy a reality:
- focus on creating turbine blades and rotors, help select suitable locations for wind farms, and optimize turbine configurations at those sites
- design support structures for turbines and related infrastructure such as buildings and roads, and also design roads that can handle the size and weight of turbine components
- create and test the electrical components of turbines involved in creating electricity, which may include motors, generators, communications systems, and electricity transmission systems
- work on systems that use electricity to operate the turbine
- assess and minimize the potential environmental impacts of wind farms
- plan and supervise the manufacture of wind turbine components
- research, create, and test materials used to make wind turbines, and ensure that they meet technical specifications
- design, develop, and test the machines involved in operating turbines and wind farms, and also work on the machinery and manufacturing processes used to make them
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How to Become a Wind Energy Engineer
Most employers require a bachelor's degree in energy engineering, mechanical engineering, or another relevant field of engineering from an ABET-accredited program. However, many jobs require a master's degree, and some require a doctorate degree.
Experience is necessary for any engineering position, therefore participating in an internship or cooperative program as an undergraduate student is highly recommended. Wind energy engineers may need to work in their field for three to five years before finding employment with wind turbine manufacturers. Once on they job, they typically have extensive on-the-job training.
What is the workplace of a Wind Energy Engineer like?
Wind energy engineers work in offices, laboratories, and industrial plants, and the work environment depends on their area of specialty. Where the wind energy systems will be products marketed to a specific audience, the wind energy engineer may meet with a sales team on a regular basis, for example. These engineers may also meet with upper level management to discuss targets for the implementation of wind energy systems. Frequent travel is common, which may include international travel, since many major turbine manufacturers are located in other countries.