High school students can study math and science in their classes, but do they really know what it takes to be an engineer? Two ninth-graders at Denmark’s Kolding Real School recently decided to answer that question for themselves. Through a five-day internship at LM Wind Power, Matthias Deneken and David Allerup experienced the day-to-day challenges engineers face when designing factories for the world’s longest wind turbine blades — and they even contributed some ideas of their own.
“I believe this was an eye-opener for the students, to understand not only the theoretical but also the practical aspects of good engineering — ‘design for manufacturing,’ as we call it,” said Ivan Mortensen, Plant Director at LM Wind Power’s Lunderskov factory. “Through their internship, they met engineers from all over the world and witnessed an actual workshop where design engineers were asked to perform glass lay-up in a blade mold.”
A Week on the job
Matthias and David’s week at LM Wind Power wasn’t just about observing — the boys were assigned a real-life project to complete and present by the week’s end.
They received a verbal briefing: LM Wind Power is building a Center of Excellence for the factory, as a tool for trainees and employees to visualize different work processes and to setup new projects. By the end of the week, they should create a plan, find the correct scale and build a realistic model of the factory and equipment using LEGOs.
The boys were up for the challenge. On the final day of the internship, they presented their model to Ivan Mortensen, HR Manager Aksel Riewe Henriksen their mentor Carsten Dalum and other engineers from the Center of Excellence project team — all of whom were impressed by the results.
“The students worked closely as a team to support each other and utilize each other’s competencies — from technical skills, to language skills, to designing the model and providing the final PowerPoint presentation,” Ivan said. “We were surprised by the good result, which we can make use of during the coming challenges for our plant.”
The scale model will be used in training exercises at the Lunderskov plant’s Center of Excellence, to simulate various processes before they start production. With this model as a starting point, Ivan is ready to break out his Lego bin again — encouraging future student interns to visualize the factory layout and to add new blade molds or equipment to the model.
“This project is one of the ways LM Wind Power encourages young students to seek a career within the renewable energy sector,” Ivan said. “We hope to bring in more students, to further develop a dynamic model according to our actual needs and current projects.”