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IGERT Grad Student Does Wind Research in Norway

Wystan Carswell, a doctoral student in the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program, has been in Norway for the past five months serving on a research post at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute in Oslo. Carswell was the subject of a feature story on the website of her alma mater, Lafayette College. “The ultimate goal of my research is to reduce the cost of generating offshore wind energy, making it more economically appealing,” says Carswell. “Renewable energy is only going to gain importance in the global paradigm. I am passionate about contributing to the body of research that supports a better environment.” Read entire article: Carswell at Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

The UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program, started with a $3.2-million grant from the National Science Foundation in August of 2011, is now spinning at full speed as it generates an interdisciplinary graduate program in offshore wind energy engineering, environmental science, and policy. The goal of the program is to create a community of researchers who understand the technological challenges, environmental implications, and socioeconomic and regulatory hurdles of offshore wind farms.The program will eventually train 24 doctoral students over the course of five years.

Lafayette College Article:

May 28, 2013

Wystan Carswell ’10 Researches Wind Turbine Energy at Norwegian Geotechnical Institute

By Andrew Clark

Studying wind energy was simply addictive for Wystan Carswell ’10. She was captivated by the topic while pursuing a master’s degree in structural engineering at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. It’s now the focus of her doctoral work at UMass Amherst and her research post at Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo.

“The ultimate goal of my research is to reduce the cost of generating offshore wind energy, making it more economically appealing,” says Carswell, who will complete her five-month residency in June. “Renewable energy is only going to gain importance in the global paradigm. I am passionate about contributing to the body of research that supports a better environment.”

Carswell views her civil engineering degree as one of her biggest career assets. She also recalls that her recruiting weeks with Delta Delta Delta helped her learn how to develop conversations and relationships, skills that she’s found to be critical in her career.

“I had a rigorous engineering education, and I felt very well prepared for life beyond Lafayette,” she says.

Last summer, Carswell’s two Ph.D. advisers, who have strong ties to the Norwegian program, proposed the residency to her. They believed it would benefit her career goal of working in wind energy because Europe has been a beacon for research in the field.

 “For the most part, Europe does not have the same amount of natural resources [coal and natural gas] that the U.S. has,” Carswell says. “The EU aims to have 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Consequently, offshore wind energy must play a significant role.”

Carswell’s research primarily involves computational models of offshore wind turbines. Because turbines are so large and expensive, physical testing is rare. Engineers rely mainly on element codes to predict behavior. Specifically, Carswell focuses on analyzing the effects of soil damping on offshore wind turbines and has been part of a project that uses statistics to design offshore pile foundations.

Living in Norway, Carswell has gained a broadened global perspective. She says she has observed fundamental differences when comparing the economic, political, and environmental systems of the U.S. and Norway. (May 2013)