Wind Energy Engineers
Overview | Related Occupations | Outlook | Wages | Outlook | Helpful High School Courses | Preparation | Related Educational Programs | Licensing | Additional Sources of Information | Back to Green Careers
Wind energy engineers design wind farm collector systems. They prepare and develop wind farms for specific sites.
While wind as a source of power is not really very new, wind energy engineering is a new profession. To develop a wind farm, the engineer must bring together the right technology (wind turbines) in the right place (open spaces with lots of wind), good transportation, and a connection to the electrical grid.
When identifying sites for wind farms, the engineer calculates wind power density (WPD) to make sure the farm will be productive. There are many other considerations; it is not easy to find the perfect location that has high WPD but can also be easily reached by engineers, technicians, and other workers. Some wind farms are even located at sea.
Wind energy engineers use complex computer software to lay out wind farms and to test and operate turbines and other systems. They are responsible for developing and testing all the components that make up an energy farm, including gearboxes, generators, and converters. Engineers also oversee the construction phase when the turbines and substations are transported to the site and installed.
A big part of a wind energy engineer’s job is to test turbines and systems before the farm is completely operational. They may test using mechanical and electronic equipment. They look for energy output as well as stress or fatigue on parts, troubleshoot problems, and recommend adjustments.
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Hawaii Career Pathways:
- Industrial & Engineering Technology
Wind energy engineers can expect a starting salary from $70,000 and upwards.
Analysts expect that the wind-power industry will continue to grow rapidly. This is due to government incentives and increased consumer interest.
Helpful High School Courses
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from our state's graduation requirements. Click here for public school graduation requirements for students graduating in 2011 or 2012. Click here for public school graduation requirements for students graduating in 2013 or later. If you attend a private school, check with your school counselor for graduation requirements.
You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
- Blueprint Reading
- Computer Applications
- Computer-Assisted Design (CAD
- Natural Resources Management
- Probability and Statistics
The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.
You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Click here for examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.
To work as a wind farm engineer, you must:
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a related field;
- be curious and detail-oriented;
- have strong analytical skills; and
- be creative.
Education after high school
Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Many four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.
Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree (Ph.D.). For instance, if you are interested in teaching mechanical engineering at a college you need a Ph.D. Also, many student engineers go to graduate school to specialize in one area of mechanical engineering.
In a typical four-year program, classes include math, basic science, introductory engineering, and social science. Courses may include mechanics and materials, turbines and engine engineering, and product engineering. You may also study design and manufacturing and mechanical vibration.
Some two-year colleges have agreements with the engineering departments at four-year schools. These agreements allow you to take your first two years of courses at the two-year college. Then you move to the university for the last two years. Some liberal arts schools have similar programs to prepare you for engineering schools.
You should consider participating in an internship with an engineering firm while you are in college. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
In general, wind energy engineers receive one to two years of on-the-job training. New graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. As you gain knowledge and experience you have greater independence and work on more difficult tasks.
Related Educational Programs
Licensing / Certification / Designation / Registration
In Hawaii, engineers (except those employed by the federal government) whose work involves the safety or health of the public must be licensed by the Hawaii board of professional engineers, architects, surveyors, and landscape architects. In Hawaii, licenses are offered in seven disciplines of engineering which include agriculture, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical, and structural. Licensure requires meeting educational and experience requirements, passing an exam, and paying fees.
Additional Sources of Information
- "Green Careers: Choosing Work for a Sustainable Future" ($19.95 paper cover, p. 368)
By Jim Cassio and Alice Rush, MA, RPCC, MCC
Publication date: 2009
New Society Publishers
Career Information Available on the Internet
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