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Harvesting Wind


On a recent gusty Tuesday, Professor of Geosciences Cindy Domack’s Meteorology course traveled to the Munnsville Wind Farm for an afternoon of learning about renewable wind energy.

At Hamilton, Meteorology is an elective in the Geosciences department that has traditionally been popular with both concentrators and non-concentrators. Domack, whose professional area of expertise in paleontology, first became interested in meteorology during an internship she did at the Otis Air National Guard Weather Office in Cape Cod, Mass., during her undergraduate days. When a former student approached her about the possibility of a meteorology course at Hamilton, Domack jumped at the opportunity to teach an interesting course that is both an important component of the atmospheric science part of a Geosciences curriculum and relevant to our daily lives. 

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Students in this semester’s meteorology course come from varied backgrounds and interests. Literature concentrator, Mackenzie Bettmann-Adcock ’18 first became interested in a meteorology course as a way to learn more about clouds and the intricacies of weather, though she says that during “every unit we learn something that I had no idea had such a large effect on weather.”

The class field trip to a wind farm occurred in the middle of a unit about global and local wind systems.  Domack brought her students to the Munnsville Wind Farm, the largest of three such wind farms in the local area, so that they could experience the wind turbines for themselves and “decide how they would feel if a similar facility were in their home community as a sustainable energy resource.”

During the field trip, the Meteorology class had the opportunity to meet the Munnsville Wind Farm site manager, Fred Gamlen, who answered numerous questions about everything from wind turbine construction and operation to the electrical networks connecting the wind farm to the local communities.

Geosciences concentrator Madison Atterbury’17 thought that the wind turbines were impressive both in size and in their ability to provide low-impact energy to the local area. She found that the field trip provided the perfect opportunity to experience wind turbines and learn how renewable wind energy systems work.

The Meteorology class appreciated Gamlen taking time out of his busy schedule to discuss the Munnsville Wind Farm and share his knowledge with the next generation of environmental stewards.

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