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Company of Alum Takes Winner of Winners Competition

The New England Clean Energy Council Institute (NECEC Institute) has announced that Black Island Wind Turbines of Springfield, a startup company founded by alumnus Patrick Quinlan ’82 of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has been awarded $50,000 as part of the institute’s Cleantech Innovations New England 2012 Winner of Winners competition. The award is meant to help clean-technology startups move closer to commercialization. Black Island is one of Quinlan’s two recently established companies that have been doing very well in business plan and accelerator competitions lately. Both of Quinlan’s startups are spinoffs of Celadon Innovation, founded by Quinlan to provide consulting services and renewable energy technology development.

Quinlan explains that “Celadon’s vision is the widespread utilization of sustainable practices and technologies that provide lasting energy independence for homes, farms, and communities. A strong part of that vision for me is accessibility to the benefits of sustainable technologies for everyone.”

Black Island Wind Turbines bills its product as “the toughest wind turbines on the planet – reliable for over a decade in Antarctica in 200+mph marine environments.” That impressive record isn’t too surprising, considering Quinlan’s UMass roots in the MIE department and his engineering credentials in sustainable energy.

In the MIE department, he worked alongside Professors James Manwell and Jon McGowan, authors of the most widely used engineering text on wind turbine engineering, Wind Energy Explained. Quinlan was on the team of engineers during the mid-1970s that deployed the UMass WF-1 wind turbine, one of the world’s most historically significant turbines. Its groundbreaking design was one of the very first to feature many of the common elements of modern utility-scale wind turbines and is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution.

In fact, the Smithsonian also houses two other inventions that Quinlan has been associated with, both while working as an engineer for Dr. Paul MacCready at AeroVironment Inc. in Monrovia, California. One is the pioneering 1997 GM EV1 electric car, and the other is the Quetzocoatlus Northropi robotic flying pterodactyl, one of the first robotic aircraft to fly using both wing-flapping and bio-mimicry-based control of flight surfaces and center-of-gravity.

The NECEC Institute is a leading economic development organization running programs to accelerate the clean energy industry. The NECEC Institute recently launched CleanzoNE, a web-based innovation portal designed to connect and grow early-stage, Cleantech Innovations across New England (http://cleantechinnovations.org/cleanzone). (February 2013)