Wid Turbine & ID


a Student of an ID program is able to develope a Wind Turbine as final project? ( a lot of aerodynamics, a lot of math)

is an ID Program enough to provide the acadamical background to develop this kind of projects?

what do you think?

yes, probably best to find someone who knows there stuff about the science to act as a mentor for this sort of project.

Is this a bachelor’s final project?

You need to be careful. If your project has too much engineering and not enough sketching, you might not be presenting your skills with a project like this. Look into developing aesthetic solutions for wind turbines. I know in New England they are having a lot of problems with locals accepting wind turbines. If someone could make a turbine that people want to look at, it could solve the problem.

The technology in the turbines is fairly refined and straight forward. Keep it simple.

Is a wind turbine a good final project for an ID major… In my opinion no…

As an emerging designer your final project or thesis project is usually your best opportunity to show your design skills - so I would suggest to all students that they consider this when picking them.


It would only make an ID project if you focus on the desirability, usability, or design-strategy elements of the turbine. Such as:

  • Making turbines less intrusive, more visually attractive, and less controversial for communities to adopt
  • Making turbines easier to buy and install by an average consumer (like the mini satellite dishes that took the world by storm a few years ago.)
  • A design strategy that links primary research to design methodology that leads to a whole-product concept

Honestly, this sounds more appropriate for a Masters degree thesis than an undergrad ID portfolio. i’d take the advice above and choose something a bit more traditional for the benefit of your portfolio.


You’re right, it’s about a bachelor’s final project.

And to be honest, before readin’ your replies I haven’t thinking by this way:
"It would only make an ID project if you focus on the desirability, usability, or design-strategy elements of the turbine" (thanks for this words cg)

I really appreciate your comments. In one hand I refuse to risk my neck at all as an emergin’ ID . In the other hand I consider that to stand on one’s own two feet in energy therms is a goal we must persuit ¿as humans? ( and i don`t wanna save the world by my own points of view)…

My dilemma is the fine line that divide ID with Engineering, I know both are complementary , but an the end I do agree that final project must be a kind of showcase for my skills and “capabilities” as a result from all this years at school.

I’ve found this by spending some few clicks sailing the internet sarching for ID students with a similiar situation, and at this time : not a lot of succes. The next link shows some interesting wind turbines, of course this products aren’t from an ID.


But after reading some sutff on this site only can say:

“ther’s more than one way to skin a cat”… But in therms of wind & engineering (a lot of accuaracy and no mistakes) , maybe there are only few ways avaible to skin the cat…

Maybe searchin’ for a more user-centered position to this project could help… or search for other project to develope it.

I disagree with anyone that says that this can’t be an ID project. In fact, I find this to be one of the areas most in need of ID thinking.

If you consider ID to be ONLY a visual experience, or you take on the project and you don’t work with an engineer on it, you will not have a viable project.

Wind Turbines have a HUGE potential for ID and the kind of thinking that can come from the ID process. Design is not just what the product looks like.

How do you design a turbine (with all the mechanical constraints) to be visually appealing?
How can turbines be less “mechanical looking”?
How can turbines be used in other ways than wind farms?

This is a huge industry and I think it could use some great Design Thinking.

The aerodynamic form will require specific two degree curves Y=X^2 with specific ro values. square root of 2 - 1 or more basically a conic form. Depending upon the Reynolds Numbers and values required Reynolds number - Wikipedia to make lift with respect to air density.

Usually in these sensitive areas where lift is significant, specific conic forms are required. I have been working on military flying drones over the past three years in San Diego and the southern California desert. I’ve learned quite a bit from the aerodynamics guys in my efforts to aid in parametric modeling. In these cases of precise arrow forms, Alias maya, rhino, ISDX and the like are not good for the precise shapes required to make lift. The free form tools are not good for making the stealthy forms and where the precise math is required. With deeplabs, modeled the stealthy UAV predator ‘C’ that has just been announced.

Where these free form tools do come into play are for blending wing tips, and transitions from fuselage to wing or in and around the NACA ducts (pre NASA) for bringing in air to cool avionics, and inlet areas. where the jet engine receives its air intake.

In the case of the turbine blade you have a steady tunnel of wind at a variating velocity and air densities… (boy those are big) I saw some in transport last weekend while on a road trip to IOWA speedway. One blade took up twice the length of a semi trailer. There were three semi trailers moving in convoy down the Iowa expressway.

There are good arguments in both directions for this. I have to say that yes, this area definitely needs some ID in it. I drive though the huge wind fields in Iowa on the way to my parents house once in a while, and I swear I’ve almost wrecked my car at least once because they are mesmerizing. I feel like theres a lot that can be done in that area in the arena of how people interact with them in their space.

On the other hand, your these is the project that lands you a job, you work on it for months and you will spend the following months talking about it at length. So it had better be the area you want to go into. Why don’t you want to save the world? Thats a shame, ID has always been about generating better concepts for the benefit of both users and manufacturers, and I would say generating concepts that are socially and environmentally responsible benefit everyone.

Engineering and Design are complementary, but unless you are an engineer, you aren’t an engineer, so it really won’t work for you to pretend to be one. This is just like when a lot of designers try to be graphic and web designers when putting together portfolios and websites and it quickly becomes obvious that they aren’t. I’m not saying you can’t learn some engineering things.

Wind energy is in a field that is engineering based, with little ID presence, and I know from experience that you can’t walk into an engineering firm and convince them to hire someone right out of school to start a design department for them. So I don’t see a lot of career opportunities for you with this type of project.

But then again what do I know, If you do this and do it crazy awesome someone will see your skill set, attention to detail, ability to understand complex ideas and work with engineers, and concern for the future of humanity, (even though you have already said you aren’t).

Well, let me just tell you, that YES this is a viable project for ID and
it has been done before. One of the students in a higher semester
did just that as a master thesis about 10 or 12 years back in time.

It was a heavy weight and in my eyes this mate didn´t really pull

And no, I`m sorry I can´t provide a link to that project, because it
was done before Al Gore invented the internet in our region…

Conclusion: Someone should do just that, but I wouldn´t dare to

All the best

yours mo-i

hell yes, stark tried his hand at one…looks great but wont work worth a tinkers damn (totaly ignored the engineering, so the size is wrong, the structure wrong etc) but is a nifty bird perch… If you decide on giving this a go, make it REAL not some dream, show you got the goods to design with in the engineering realitys…

I made an insinuation that there are parts of the blade that you can’t modify. Specifically the parts of the front too tip. Closer to the center spindle matters less. But for overall efficiency that ‘ro’ value will need to be specific with respect to the Reynolds Numbers and efficiency. Rhino and Alias can not sweep a varying ‘RO’ value with respect to a graph like Catia, Pro/E and Unigraphics can. Pro/ENGINEER does it with a Variable Section Sweep tied to a trajpar variable. I hear Solidworks will have that capability on the next rev.

Another thing to take into account is location. Wind on the ocean is much more consistent compared to wind above ground. Say a corn field. These inconsistencies will make the bearings wear much more quickly over land than over the ocean.

Another thing to consider is how mechanics will make repairs or switch out blades, or generators/motors. For Hurricane winds it would be pro gear if the tower could telescope down and move under water.

To make them look different might be a challenge. How they work, or how repairs is another thing.

Now if ID’ conceptual thought process can come up with a box kite design or something else like the above picture …

Well, the project is on-going while this isn’t my final project theme… I see an ID student involved on Wind Turbine Desing more as a part of the project , maybe a strong “design thinking” could help to change from "a part " to the “projet leader”. I

Now, the role of a designer is more related to be an integrator of resources in an holistic way?, or the role should be more focused on being the “switch” reaching innovation?

We all know that there are some parts of a wind turbine that “can’t be modified”…why? in which way conceptual design and blue-sky ideas could help to rethink frontiers? (I mean, we are talkin’ about KW, more than matte painting vs time vs money vs feseability).

After all, engineering helps design to became a on-ground based solution …

no in a field that is mature (aerodynamics and electical generation) design is of little or no value for blue sky,because their AINT. You can rub your self with thoughts of windmills that look like sun flowers, but in the end the engineers will design it to WORK and work well.

you’re probably right that the looks of a turbine could be improved a little bit, but at the end of the day, its gonna be huge and spinning and made of metal. there also isn’t too much room for asthetic change either. you wouldn’t want to have your industrial design impact the efficiency of the turbine. i don’t think you could do anything to a turbine that would really change someone’s opinion of whether or not it’s ugly. at this point in the industry i think it’s still an engineering issue. once all of the different mechanical designs have been explored, and their pros and cons have been established maybe some designers can step in. one field that i think does have a future in the industry is landscape architecture. there’s so much potential in figuring out how to place the turbines in the landscape to have the least aesthetic impact. but thats not our job of course.

Besides, what’s wrong with how they look now? I know some people are getting bent out of shape about how big they are on the landscape, but I personally find them very beautiful forms. Simple, clean. Its like watching a fish tank.

mature science has a tendancy to be that way.

Oh come on, placement is going to be where it produces the highest net return this is a ENERGY BUISNESS not perfume bottles. Will designers have a impact, nope, sorry, aint going to happen. Think it through with out the rosy glasses, lets just say there is a premo spot for these and the local gov says “no way not unless they look like them dutch ones” and the utility will say “nope, to do so will cost 40% of its eff, and there by 40% of what your getting poured into your tax coffers”. Now unless its someplace like Pebble beach or in the hamptons the $ will win out. If it is in Pebble or the hamptons one of the locals will grease the plams of the locals and put them up as a way of showing how “democratic” and “responsible” they are.

I would go for it, but broaden your scope. As others have said, state of the art windmills are primarily a product of a ton o’engineering. Somehow a lot of them look pretty cool.

What if you thought about ways to integrate the ‘state of the art’ in windmill technology into neat ways that better the environment and keep the NIMBY’s at bay?

You might be able to come up with different concepts for different regions… say coastal, mountainous, desert… etc. This is a bad example, but the cell towers that look like gigantic pine trees are at the very least an attempt to integrate something really big and out-of-place into the surroundings.

What if there were enough windmills in CA to generate some juice, then turn 180 degrees to slow the wind and help control forest fires (i know, i know…)? Someone else mentioned telescoping towers… that’s neat… what if a coastal windmill could drop into the sea and produce tidal energy when the winds were bad.


This is YOUR thesis project. Do what ever you want, have fun with it, and do it well.

Good Luck!


Can someone with more engineering knowledge explain why a squirrel fan design for the blades isn’t used over the current system?
The only reason I can come up with is decreased efficiency and problems relating to the side vent, but you can dress them up more since the outside isn’t as important