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Bradley Hilltopics

Fall 2010 • Volume 16, Issue 4  



wind project has real world twist wind project has real world twist

Mechanical engineering major ADRIENNE BRASCHE ’11 prepares to test the efficiency of her group’s wind turbine model. The efficiency is the percentage of the wind’s kinetic energy that is converted into electrical power.


ADRIENNE BRASCHE ’11 and NICK SHANE ’11 were friendly competitors last spring as they worked to design and build scale models of a wind turbine — the kind that are now part of the landscape along highways in Illinois, as well as Texas, Iowa, and many other states.


to read Energy Stars, the story of alumnae who direct energy programs.

With wind energy in the headlines, Dr. Scott Post thought the subject was well suited for his mechanical engineering course, Thermodynamics of Fluid Flows. The 32 students, mostly juniors, were divided into groups of four. Their assignment was to design models of propellers to be tested in Bradley’s subsonic wind tunnel. With four-inch blades, their models were 1/300th the length of the giant blades found on commercial turbines. Students chose the materials for their scale models, as well as the geometry of their designs. Materials ranged from wood to plexiglas to ABS plastic to aluminum.

“The goal was efficiency,” Brasche explained. “It was a really good experience. It was a mini design project that should prepare us for our senior design project. Luckily, we got started early and weren't rushed at the end.”

NICK SHANE ’11 demonstrates the wind turbine model created by his group for their Mechanical Engineering 308 course. They chose to use a CNC milling machine to cut out their model.


As across-the-hall neighbors, Brasche and Shane enjoyed showing their projects to each other as they progressed. “I spent hours and hours on the computer,” Shane reports. “I did a three-dimensional CAD drawing of exactly what I wanted the computerized numeric control (CNC) milling machine to cut out.” Brasche used a rapid prototype machine — a type of 3-D printer — to cut out her group’s propeller. Other group members researched and wrote 20-page papers about the guiding principles for designing the turbines and the economics of wind power.

According to Post, the most successful groups followed the principle of twisting the wind turbine blades so they followed an inverse tangent profile. The respective models were tested at speeds ranging from 15 to 60 mph. At 60 mph some groups achieved rotation rates of 10,000 rpm, a speed that surprised even the professor. But at that top speed, the small turbines would provide only enough power to run a single fluorescent light bulb.

Attempting to make ME 308 as “real world” as possible, for past projects Post has given each group $200 in “Bradley bucks.” They had to spend the play money on materials and to pay for the use of equipment such as the CNC machine, the wind tunnel, and to consult with the professor.

Previous ME 308 classes have built rockets that must land in a target area, and have constructed glider planes they have flown at the Markin Center. Post has a different plan this fall for the Fluids Lab, which is used to test air and water projects. Students will use the 20-foot water table to study the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Watch a video of the propellers in the wind tunnel



tradition returns in new venue

Freshman Convocation, a tradition in the ’90s, was conducted on August 24, the night before classes began. In addition to welcoming words from Bradley President Joanne Glasser, Provost Dr. David Glassman, Student Body President NICK SWIATKOWSKI ’12, and keynote speaker Dr. Robert Fuller, students were treated to their first glimpse of the new 4,200-seat campus arena. Attendees also watched videos about Bradley’s past and future, sang Hail, Red and White, and enjoyed refreshments. Previous convocations were held at Olin Quad, the Field House, and the Student Center. Watch the videos and read more at


Bishop’s Journal

A journal kept by the founder of Jubilee College, a former seminary and preparatory school, was donated recently to Special Collections in the Cullom-Davis Library at Bradley. The small volume was carried by Philander Chase as he traveled the Episcopal Diocese of Illinois as its first bishop. It records ordinations, baptisms, marriages, and other religious events from 1835 until Chase’s death in 1852.

Dr. Philander Chase, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, wanted the book to “come back home” to a place where it could be preserved. Bradley is one of the two largest repositories of Chase material. Librarian Charles Frey said the journal helps continue the University’s commitment to preserving the history of central Illinois.