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Students Are 'The Brain Power' Behind New Clean Energy Turbine

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh's Energy Innovation Center is exactly what it sounds like, an organization that supports clean and sustainable energy.

The group is now taking another green step with its new wind turbine. But this one is a bit different, and they have local high-schoolers to thank.

When temperatures drop below freezing this winter, you might not be hoping for a lot of wind. But Ronald Gdovic certainly is.

"We manufacture the largest vertical-axis wind turbine in the United States," says Gdovic, the CEO of WindStax.

The company's new 40-foot wind turbine is different from old-fashioned wind mills.

"It can accept wind from any direction. It is less susceptible to turbulence than a regular windmill. They're idea for urban areas and lower-wind areas," Gdovic says.

And it was an opportunity for local students.

Kids from Carlynton, West Allegheny and Parkway West Tech were tasked with finding a way to show off the new turbine, which will help power the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District.

"It's all 3D printed, and it's controlled by a little controller, and it has a motor," said Sean Steding, a student at Carlynton.

The students' model is a system that measures how fast the wind is going.

"Then, this light would change, and it's meant to shine up to the windmill, and it would change based on how fast this part is spinning" said Steding.

"This will be here 30 years or more. So these students will be able to point up the hill for years and show their kids, 'I was a part of that project,'" said Gdovic.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says the cooperation shows what Pittsburgh does best.

"WindStax is a local company. A lot of the metal was made in Rankin and Braddock in the Mon Valley. And our students, the brain power, local students in our school districts," said Fitzgerald.

For more information on Pittsburgh's Energy Innovation Center, click here.

WindStax is expanding its footprint of wind turbines. The company started five years ago, and they already have about 40 turbines installed in the Pittsburgh area.

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