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“Imbertson’s leadership t may be difficult to imagine, but it’s a fact of style is very hands-off. He daily—and especially nightly—life that neartells us what he thinks ly a quarter of the world’s population has no and asks probing queselectricity in their homes. It’s also a global problem tions, yet in the end, that Innovative Engineers, one of the University of he lets us blaze our Minnesota’s newest student groups, is eager to help own trail and learn solve with renewable energy technologies. from our mistakes. In just its third year, more than 150 students He helps us to defrom all engineering disciplines in the University’s velop skills that will College of Science and Engineering expressed an make us better engiinterest in joining Innovative Engineers this fall. neers,” Morton added. This growing interest clearly demonstrates how enthusiastic the college’s students are to use their technical skills to impact the world. The answer is blowing “It may sound cliché, but our group is truly pasin the wind sionate about developing imaginative and creative Located a half-hour ride up a ways to design and implement renewable energy dirt road from the city of Jinotega, in technologies in the developing world,” said David the northwestern part of Nicaragua, one of Giacomin, Innovative Engineers president and civthe poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, il engineering student. “We have close to 90 solid is the village of La Hermita. With a population of members now. It’s really exciting.” about 120—or 25 families—it’s a close-knit commuThe inspiration for Innovative Engineers started nity where residents cultivate crops like corn, beans, in May 2009 when Alejandro and squash and where De la Mora, a 2010 civil enmeager electrical devices gineering graduate, traveled are powered by old car to Scandinavia with other batteries. They just wanted to be University of Minnesota enIn 2006, the Univergineering students to parsity’s chapter of the Naable to turn on a light bulb ticipate in a College of Scitional Society of Black ence and Engineering Global Engineers (NSBE), which and listen to the radio so Seminar. Imbertson also advises, The three-week semibuilt a wind turbine for they could get their news nar, which was led by Paul the village of La Hermita Imbertson who teaches in to power a community and know what’s going on the Department of Electriwater pump. Similarly, cal and Computer EngineerInnovative Engineers saw in the country. ing, focused on renewable a need they could fulfill energy production methods for the village with their –scott morton and included visits to wind own wind turbine project. farms, power plants, hydro Before the wind turfacilities, and solar compobine was built, village nent manufacturers. residents traveled regularly to the nearest town by During the seminar, De la Mora became intrigued horseback to have their batteries recharged. The by wind power and its ability to shape the future. process could take up to an entire day. He spoke to Imbertson about his desire to build a “They just wanted to be able to turn on a light bulb wind turbine. With Imbertson’s help, it wasn’t long and listen to the radio so they could get their news before De la Mora and four fellow engineering stuand know what’s going on in the country. We take dents began designing and constructing the wind these things for granted,” Morton said. turbine in Imbertson’s basement. That following seAfter several trips to La Hermita, this past summester, Innovative Engineers was officially founded, mer Innovative Engineers completed the wind turand Imbertson became advisor of the group. bine, which now sits on top of a beautiful mountain. “It says a lot about our faculty to give us use of It generates one kilowatt of electricity—enough their [Imbertson’s] basement. It certainly isn’t in his to recharge batteries so they will last about three job description,” said Scott Morton, former presiweeks. dent of Innovative Engineers and mechanical engi“A lot of teamwork and relationship building with neering student. local Nicaraguan students and businesses, as well

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Scott Morton, former president of Innovative Engineers and mechanical engineering student, shares a lighter moment with one of La Hermita’s children. Innovative Engineer’s objective is to educate and build relationships with the residents of La Hermita to help them understand how the community can progress with renewable wind energy.

winter 2012 INVENTING TOMORROW 9

Inventing Tomorrow, Winter 2012 (Vol. 36 no. 1)  

Researchers map both ends of the globe. Students use wind to power developing communities. Corporate partnerships benefit college, students,...

Inventing Tomorrow, Winter 2012 (Vol. 36 no. 1)  

Researchers map both ends of the globe. Students use wind to power developing communities. Corporate partnerships benefit college, students,...