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Future Aviators, Engineers Learn with Miniature Turbojet

On September 18, 2003, Hurricane Isabel, a level five hurricane, made landfall on the North Carolina coastline. Five hours later, the hurricane had tracked northwest and was releasing a deluge on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. The rain and accompanying storm surge of the Severn River left much of the campus under eight feet of water. Also under water was a newly delivered Turbine Technologies MiniLab Gas Turbine Power System, still in its delivery crate.

While the Navy and some 400 contractors were rebuilding the Academy grounds and classrooms, Turbine Technologies was preparing a new MiniLab.

"As the remnants of Isabel were sliding across the Great Lakes and into Canada, Turbine Technologies staff was in contact with Naval Academy officials to get the MiniLab returned to our facility for damage assessment," said Todd Gaines, Product Applications Specialist at Turbine Technologies. "We anticipated the worst, considering that the unit was submerged in salt water."

Although an initial assessment suggested the unit could be repaired, the decision was made to remanufacture the MiniLab as if it were a new production unit.

Working with Professor Martin Cerza of the Academy's Mechanical Engineering Department and Professor Maido Saarlas of the Aerospace Engineering Department, Turbine Technologies expedited construction and testing of a new MiniLab. By mid May of 2004, the Naval Academy took delivery of their "second" new MiniLab Gas Turbine Power System and safely stored it away on high ground awaiting the completion of repairs to the laboratory facilities where it would eventually be used.

With Hurricane Isabel a distant memory, midshipmen, faculty and staff at the Academy finally had a chance this week to fire up their MiniLab for the first time.















Beating Hurricane Isabel, the Army and frigid temperatures, midshipmen from the Naval Academy get a chance to operate their new MiniLab Gas Turbine Power system during its inaugural run

Because there was still some work to be done to the gas turbine lab facilities at the Academy, the unit could not be operated in its intended location. The training technician from Turbine Technologies suggested that the unit simply be rolled to an adjacent door for the first run. Despite frigid temperatures, the midshipmen did just that and the unit was up and running.

Academy instructors and lab techs were given instruction on the unit's operation and usage in preparation for future academy mechanical and aerospace engineering classes. Those interested in using the MiniLab for research were also briefed. Anyone else who braved the cold temperatures was given the opportunity to be amongst the first to operate the unit.

As training was nearing completion, one enthusiastic midshipman wanted to know "…whether army had one of these?" The training technician smiled and remarked, "No…. not yet. You beat them again." Satisfied, the midshipmen nodded and hurried off to another assignment.

The Naval Academy's MiniLab Gas Turbine Power System joins the ranks of over 15 other MiniLab systems used for teaching and research at service academies and military installations around the world.


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