High School Students Flex Their STEM Muscles To Help Install Wind Turbine In Lower Hill

Dec 20, 2017

A 40-foot tall wind turbine has been unveiled in the Lower Hill District to help power the former Connelley Trade School. The building now houses a collection of sustainability-focused organizations, including the Energy Innovation Center and the Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation.

The turbine was designed with the help of 30 high school students as part of an Energy Innovation Center "Design Challenge." The program connects kids interested in STEM careers to real-life projects they can contribute to in meaningful ways, according to Center Vice President Jessica Lee.

"They were really involved in the more artistic design aspects. They were also involved with the more technical aspects of wind storage and things like that," Lee said. "There was also the education aspect and communication to the community."

The students involved in the Design Challenge came from Parkway West Career & Technology Center, Carlynton High School and West Allegheny High School.

The wind turbine was manufactured by WindStax, a Pittsburgh-based start-up that has installed nearly 40 turbines in the Pittsburgh area, including 16 small ones on the Rachel Carson bridge.

Founder and CEO of WindStax Ron Gdovic said the lower Hill turbine will provide about 2 to 3 percent of the building's overall energy consumption. 

"It was really designed as not only a symbol of the Energy Innovation Center's commitment to new energy, but also as an educational opportunity," Gdovic said. 

Gdovic said the turbine's location and height make it a focal point in the Hill District, and will be a testament to Pittsburgh's clean energy commitment.