By Shannon Johnson
On March 19, a BHS senior, Hunter Mashak, son of Travis and Emily Mashak, won the state science fair held in Missoula, with his project titled “3D Printed Dimpled Wind Turbine Blade Designs”.
Mashak’s awards include the Grand Award Division I – Best Exhibit Division I where he took first place, the Larry Fauque Division – Overall Best Division I Exhibit taking the Grand Award, the Montana Energy Education Council Award, and the US Metric Association Award – Best Use of the International System Units. Along with those awards, Mashak has also worked his way into qualifying for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz. in May. “I was shocked,” admitted Mashak.
Mashak’s project tested ways to allow energy generated from turbines to be produced more efficiently. Mashak is eager to bring his project to Intel ISEF. “I’m excited and nervous,” he said.
“The purpose of this experiment is to compare commercial and 3D printed wind turbine blade designs with dimpling, rough and smooth surfaces to produce the most energy,” Mashak stated in his report.
“The smaller 3D printed blades did better overall than the control blades, possibly due to less drag. The rough blades with striations produced lower values than the smooth blades. The smooth blades probably have more surface area exposed allowing for the air molecules to travel in random patterns, which create more drag. Dimples did not produce a significant difference in power produced in the 3D printed blades. Wind turbine blades should be engineered to reduce drag and increase energy produced, and smaller 3D printed blades may be an option,” he concluded in his report.
Throughout his high school career, Mashak has kept busy with FFA, football, track, and National Honor Society. He has plans to attend college in Plattville, Wis. at the University of Wisconsin. “All of my family is there. My grandparents are only an hour away so there’s free food,” he joked.
Initially Mashak had plans to study for a career as a veterinarian, but after this experience he is considering studying engineering, although he is not yet decided. “I’ve loved science my whole life,” he said.