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March Winds

A field of wind turbines located west of Williams, Iowa Source: Wikimedia Commons

A field of wind turbines located west of Williams, Iowa Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is the proverbially windy month of March, when the weather is widely variable, blowing in warmer temperatures and creating spring storms.

If you want to see how windy Iowa (or the entire country) is, check out the Wind Map.

How can Mother Natures’s ferocious power be harnessed and tamed?

Driving along Interstate 80, acres of wind turbines rise majestically over the corn fields and blink in the midnight sky making the wind industry a vital economic resource. The state of Iowa has more than 80 wind installations with over 2,500 turbines capable of producing 3,670 megawatts of power. The turbines generated nearly 27% of Iowa’s total electricity in 2013,2 and more than 50 companies are responsible for employing 3,626 people3 whose jobs are to manufacture, transport, or assemble the giant blades and towers, rotors and generators. Even farmers are compensated for leasing their land, furthering the benefits to the Iowa economy.

With towers standing over 200 feet tall and spinning two or three 116-feet propeller-like blades, how do these behemoth, industrial-sized wind turbines generate electricity? Simply stated, the energy in the wind turns the blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to a shaft which spins a generator to create electricity. However, to learn more, see how a wind turbine works.4 Be sure to hover over the different parts for more information.

As you are out in the last few days of the blustery month of March, consider all the power and energy those winds produce.

Xu, Xuegen, Yu, Kai, and He, Guorong. Downwind Variable Pitch Wind Turbine Generator. U.S. Patent 20130011262. Filed May 22, 2011. Assigned January 10, 2013. Source:

Xu, Xuegen, Yu, Kai, and He, Guorong. Downwind Variable Pitch Wind Turbine Generator. U.S. Patent 20130011262. Filed May 22, 2011. Assigned January 10, 2013. Source:

References & Resources

1 Craig, Ashely, et al. The Wind Energy Supply Chain in Iowa. Chicago, IL: The Environmental Law & Policy Center, November 2010

2 U.S. Energy Information Administration. Iowa. Quick Facts

3 “Iowa projected to add 1,330 energy jobs in 2015.” The Des Moines Register, December 15, 2014

4 How Does a Wind Turbine Work? Source: U.S. Department of Energy. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

5 Iowa Wind Energy Association

6 American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) TC 88 Wind turbine systems

Books & Standards

Newton, David E. Wind energy: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015. Engineering Library On order

Edited by Panos M. Pardalos, et al. Handbook of wind power systems. Berlin: Spring, 2014. Engineering Library TJ820 .H36 2014

Harvest the Wind book cover

Engineering Library TK1541 .W36 2012

Warburg, Philip. Harvest the wind: America’s journey to jobs, energy independence, and climate stability. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012. Engineering Library TK1541 .W36 2012

Edited by Charalambos C. Baniotopoulos et al. Environmental wind engineering and design of wind energy structures. New York: Springer Verlag, 2011. Engineering Library QC931 .E58 2011

Burthchen, Marco, et al. Material Qualification of Main Bearings for Large Wind Energy Turbines. November 21, 2014. STP 1580, 2014.

Index of Wind turbine standards. Source: International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)


Flying into Spring

Welcome Spring! The Lichtenberger Engineering Library exhibit is now highlighting the dream of flight. The idea was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s last film The Wind Rises. The film is a look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II, and his love of flight.

The fascinating exhibit items including aircraft models, a prototype helmet, an instrument panel, challenge coins, and patches are borrowed from the Operator Performance Laboratory. The Operator Performance Laboratory, a unit of the University of Iowa Center for Computer–Aided Design, is located at the Iowa City Municipal Airport. The laboratory, housed in a hangar, holds three aircraft and two simulators, and mainly conducts research on human-in-the-loop and intelligent autonomous systems. Believe it or not, when visiting the laboratory, we saw a big stuffed bear as a “pilot” in the cockpit of Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza!

The old-looking instrument panel in the exhibit case is from the rear cockpit of an Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin. The Aero L-29 Delfin (dolphin), NATO designation Maya, is a military trainer aircraft. It was firstly designed and built by Aero Vodochody for the Czechoslovakian Air Force and Soviet Air Force. The laboratory’s L-29 can climb at the rate of 14 m/s (2,800 ft/min). The maximum speed of the aircraft is 820 km/h (510 mph). The range and service ceiling are 900 km (560 mi) and 11,500 m (37,700 ft).

For those who are passionate about flight, please check out related books and DVDs ( ) from the Engineering Library. The library also holds non-technical books on aviation such as The Wright Brothers and the birth of aviation, and Women and flight: portraits of contemporary women pilots.

Come and see the exhibit to find more!


Operator Performance Laboratory website. Retrieved from

Aero L-29 Delfin. Retrieved from

Research Aircraft Specification Sheet. Retrieved from


PI DAY CELEBRATION! March 13, 2015

Tomorrow is the Pi Day to end all Pi Days!




Thanks to IEEE for the great freebies!!

Thanks to IEEE for the great freebies!!



We celebrated a day early with free apple pie bites, trivia and freebies from IEEE!




In 2 hours, 300 pie bites were consumed and many students bravely took on the 7 trivia games that were played.

Who hit the buzzer first?

Who hit the buzzer first?


Many students were in the Student Commons cramming for their next exam, but managed to take time out to either play a game of trivia or to cheer on those who were playing.




Stopping by on our way out of town for Spring Break!

Stopping by on our way out of town for Spring Break!


 Some stopped between classes and others stopped before they left town for spring break.







Check our facebook page for more photos (and be sure to like our page while you are there!)

And thanks so much for Tau Beta Pi for co-sponsoring and to members Handbin Tao, Molly Berringer, Austin Hangartner, Allison Kindig, and Erin Leppek!

Now, just how many digits of Pi have you memorized?

I memorized over 20....

I memorized over 20!









See you next year!!! Plan to be there or be square!


Happy Pi Day (Eve) 3.13, 10:30!

IMG_20150223_142857590We gather and celebrate Pi Day (Eve) on Friday, March 13 at 10:30 AM-12:30 PM in front of the Lichtenberger Engineering Library in the Student Commons. There will be free apple pie bites, lemonade, and coffee as well as trivia competitions!

Pi, Greek letter, is defined as a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter – which is approximately 3.141592653. The first Pi Day was “invented” in 1988 by Larry Shaw, who worked in the electronics group at San Francisco Exploratorium. In 2009, the House of Representatives designated March 14 as National Pi Day. This year, we are excited to observe the special Pi Day on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 AM and PM, with the sequential time representing the first ten digits of pi!

To celebrate this special Pi Day, check out the Pi Day exhibit and join us on March 13!


How American celebrate Pi Day. Retrieved from


Ninety-nine Years of BMWs

Ninety-nine years ago on March 7, 1916, BMW was officially incorporated. Originally launched to make aircraft engines for Kaiser Wilhelm’s war machine during World War I, the company switched to making motorcycles in the 1920s and started producing cars in the 1930s. The first plant outside of Germany, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, wasn’t built until 1992. BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works. It has often been said, however, that BMW stands for “Beauty. Money. Wealth.” And, BMW advertising executives have said that BMWs are meant to convey “unpretentious exclusivity.” They are also considered to be “the ultimate driving machine.”

If you aren’t quite ready to head out and put a new BMW in your garage, you can dream while paging through The BMW Book.  It is 303 pages of full-color photos of BMW vehicles. It is also packed with information about everything from motorsports, motorcycles, Heritage and Icon BMWs from the past, to the concept vehicles of the future. BMW has two electric cars on the market right now: the BMW i3 and the BMW i8.

BMW Isetta or "Bubble Car"

BMW Isetta or “Bubble Car”

One of the Heritage BMWs you’ll see in The BMW Book is the Isetta. The Italian firm, Iso SpA, which was known for building refrigerators, motor scooters and small three-wheeled trucks expanded in 1952 and built the Isetta, a small, egg-shaped car. BMW bought the license and the complete body tooling from Iso SpA, and then made the Isetta its own, re-engineering much of the car. The first BMW Isetta appeared in April 1955. That same year it became the top-selling single-cylinder car in the world. The “bubble car” had a single seat for driver and passenger and a front mounted door. The heater was optional and, in the event of a crash, the driver and passenger were expected to exit through the canvas sun roof.

Check out this youtube video to see an Isetta in action!


National Geographic’s Ultimate Factories DVD Collection


Want to go inside a BMW factory and see how the”ultimate driving machines” are manufactured?
Check out National Geographic’s Ultimate Factories Collection on DVD. You’ll be able to witness first-hand what it takes to build the powerful, high-performance cars and motorcycles. This 4-disc collection, available in the Engineering Library, will take you behind-the-scenes of many different types of factories, including factories for fire trucks, M-1 Tanks, Budweiser and others.


BMW doesn’t just build cars that look great on the highway or in your driveway. They are expanding their line of cars within the BMW Sports Trophy Customer Racing program – this line is said to have “strong motorsport genes.” The BMW M4 DTM race car is a strong contender in the DTM racing circuit (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) which is considered by some to be some of the highest GT racing in the world.  BMW motorcycles have been winning championships since 1924 and have included, among others, sidecar racing (17 championship titles in a 20-year span), nine consecutive German championships, and the the US Superbike Championship.





The BMW Book

The BMW Book









For More Information:



Alkaline batteries, lithium-ion batteries, potato batteries, but frog batteries?

To celebrate National Battery Day, take a moment to think how many times a day and in how many different ways you rely on batteries … cell phones, computers and tablets, cameras, hearing aids, car batteries, children’s toys, games, smoke alarms (have you checked that battery recently?), the list goes on.  Image what the world would be like if we only had frog batteries on which to rely…

Matteucci's Frog Battery

Matteucci’s Frog Battery

Yup, frog batteries.  Carlo Matteucci developed the first well-known frog battery in 1845. A frog battery is an electrochemical battery and the general term of this class of battery is the “muscular pile.” But, long before there were frog batteries, Benjamin Franklin coined the term “battery” to describe an array of charged glass plates. His “Leyden Jars” were the early form of a capacitor. He not only came up with the theories, he had to create a new language to fit them. He coined the terms battery, charge, condenser, positively and negatively among others. These are the same terms that are used today. The rechargeable battery was developed in 1859 by the French inventor, Gaston Plante, and is the battery most commonly used in cars today. However, there is now a push for greener electric cars, and there are nearly 25 electric cars on the market today.  Now the race is on to create a SuperBattery – one that can power an electric car for 300 miles. The Tesla Models X and S are the only cars that come close so far. The Supercharger stations in China are among the world’s fastest and can fully recharge a Tesla in 75 minutes.

The Tesla Model S electric car next to the Tesla electric Roadster.

The Tesla Model S electric car next to the Tesla electric Roadster.

It is even possible to build your own electric car – building from the ground up or converting an internal combustion engine to electric. According to Seth Leitman, an industry leader in Green-Eco Friendly lifestyles, there are four reasons why EVs will be around a long time: They are fun to drive and own, they are cost efficient, they are performance efficient and they are environmentally efficient.  In the latest edition of his book, “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” he will take you, step-by-step through building your own electric vehicle.  His books, “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” and “Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle” are available here in the library. The Leddy Lab in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa is doing research on several areas, one of which is Fuel Cells and Batteries.  Fuel Cells are efficient and have environmental advantages which make them attractive power sources for everything from cars to laptops. Researchers at Virginia Tech are working on perfecting a sugar-powered “biobattery.” Recharging may be as simple as adding sugar. And so the development of the battery continues. From the potato batteries used in science classes to molten salt batteries, nickel-zinc batteries, rechargeable alkaline batteries, vacuum tube batteries, the sugar battery and fuel cells. And so the development of the battery continues. From the potato batteries used in science classes to molten salt batteries, nickel-zinc batteries, rechargeable alkaline batteries, vacuum tube batteries, the sugar battery and fuel cells.  I’m glad we don’t have to rely on frog batteries…. Car_Frog

Engineering Library TL220 .B68 2013

Engineering Library TL220 .B68 2013


For more information:


Love and Ferris Wheels Just Go Together

Love and Ferris Wheels just go together!

“…Look at our small town spinning around
We got our feet dangling high off the ground
Can you believe, baby, how good it feels
Falling in love on a Ferris wheel? Falling in love…”

Ferris Wheel, written by Michael Sarver. (C) 2010 Dream Records

February 14 is not only Valentine’s Day, but also National Ferris Wheel Day! It is the birth date of George W. G. Ferris, Jr. and he is credited for creating the first large, steel amusement ride – the Ferris Wheel.


The 1893 Ferris Wheel

That first Ferris Wheel was unveiled in the summer of 1893 at Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition. It was the first international exposition held in the United States and the committee wanted an engineering marvel that would overshadow France’s Eiffel Tower. Having recently ridden a fifty-foot wooden “observation roundabout,” which had been built and soon would be patented by William Somers, Ferris was inspired to enter the competition with his paper-napkin drawing of an enormous park ride. The constructed 45-foot axle-wheel powered by two 1,000 horsepower steam engines was supported by two 140-foot steel towers and it carried thirty-six wooden cars 264 feet high into the air – taller than any existing buildings!

Since the original Ferris Wheel, the world has continually been trying to out-do it. In 1897, a copy of the original was erected in Prater Park, Vienna , Austria and became the longest running Ferris wheel in history.  In 1904 the Ferris wheel was again the centerpiece of the World’s Fair, this time in St. Louis. The Texas Star was built in Italy and shipped to Dallas, Texas in 1985. It was, at that time, the tallest operating Ferris wheel at 213 feet (that is 52 feet shorter than the original 1893 wheel).

The London Eye, at 443 feet, opened to the public in 2000. The Singapore Flyer, at 541 feet, became the tallest Ferris wheel in in the world in 2008. The 682 foot tall Beijing Great Wheel was supposed to be built in 2009-2010, but the parent company went into receivership and it was never completed.


The original Ferris Wheel had 36 cabins and each one was able to carry 60 people for a total of 2,160 people per ride. There were fancy wire chairs for 38 passengers and five large plate glass windows. The cabins were 24 feet long, 10 feet high and weighed 26,000 pounds. A conductor rode in each cabin to allay fears and answer questions.

Currently, the world’s largest Ferris wheel – or Observation Wheel - is the High Roller in Las Vegas across from Ceasars Palace. It is 550 feet tall, 107 feet taller then the London Eye. In contrast to the original Ferris Wheel each of the 28 cabins is 225 square-feet and weighs approximately 44,000 pounds. Each cabin has a diameter of 22 feet and includes 300 square feet of glass. It also has 8 flat-screen televisions and an iPod dock. The High Roller is lit by 2,000 LED lights which have multiple lighting options.  Looking for that special Valentine’s Day destination wedding? You can book a VIP cabin on the High Roller and have the wedding of your dreams!

Find the nearest Ferris Wheel and maybe, just maybe, fall in love?



Circles in the Sky: The Life and Times of George Ferris. ENGN TA 140 .F455 W45 2009

Circles in the Sky

LINQ Hotel and Casino, High Roller FAQ ;

Wikipedia, High Roller (Ferris Wheel) ;

Hyde Park Historical Society Newsletter, “The Big Wheel,” Spring 2000 ;



In 1978, the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) formed the F24 committee to create standards for the design, testing, manufacturing, and operation of amusement park rides.


Celebrating Weatherpeople!

John Jeffries

John Jeffries Source: Wikipedia

Because the weather has a significant impact on our daily lives, National Weatherperson’s Day recognizes the scientists who track our major storms and atmospheric climate changes. The day commemorates the birth of John Jeffries who was born in Boston in 1745. He was a Harvard graduate and surgeon who became fascinated with observing the weather. Beginning in 1774, he daily measured and recorded the weather in Boston. Then, in 1784, he made a historical balloon flight across the English Channel to observe atmospheric conditions up close.

Weather balloons, anemometer cups and rain gauges have since been replaced with earth-orbiting satellites and computer-aided atmospheric modeling used for gathering data to predict long- and short-term meteorological events which will significantly impact our global atmosphere in terms of ozone levels and and movement of storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the United States governmental body responsible for monitoring and forecasting the weather and conducting meteorological research. NASA, too, is instrumental in researching and mapping atmosopheric changes using telescopes and space stations.

Take a moment and think of your favorite and trusted meteorologist…big hint…she is your very own engineering librarian.





Satellite Weather Radar Source: IIHR

Satellite Weather Radar Source: IIHR Hydroscience & Engineering University of Iowa


infoplease: meteorology

infoplease: weather balloon

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Meteorological Technology World Expo 2015



Atmospheric Change book cover

Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change Engineering Library QC879.6 .A85 1999


Atmospheric chemistry and global change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Engineering Library QC879.6 .A85 1999

Wallace, John M. Atmoshperic science: an introductory survey, 2d edition. Boston: Elsevier Academic Press, 2oo6. Engineering Library FOLIIO QC861.3 .W3 2006

Understanding Weather and Climate, 6th edition. Engineering Library QC861.3 .A38 2013. Engineering Library QC861.3 .A38 2013




Paper Engineering

Come and see the exhibit on Paper Engineering at the Lichtenberger Engineering Library. Paper Engineering, closely allied with chemical engineering, deals with application of math, chemistry, physics, and engineering to the pulp and paper industry; design and analysis of equipment and processes used in the manufacture of paper.1 The fascinating part of paper engineering is paper art including pop-up books, miniature books and origami (paper folding).

AliceAlice’s Adventure in Wonderland from the University’s Special Collections is a pop-book made by a pop-up book artist and paper engineer, Robert Sabuda. Before Alice came to the Engineering Library, her knee was fixed by the University Libraries Conservation Lab.

Amazing miniature books in the exhibit case are also from the University’s Special Collections. These miniature books are selected from the Charlotte M. Smith Collection.2 The suitcase is beyond cute! Inside there are three tiny books (in the white circle container), a magnifying glass to read them and larger copies of these tiny books.miniature book set

Among these miniature books in the exhibit case, you may be interested in seeing picture books: a children’s calendar in the Meiji period (over 100 years ago), the Tale of Genji (源氏物語) and Accordion to zither : a musical ABC.

Stop by and find more!


1 Paper Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Retrieved from

2 The Charlotte M. Smith Collection of Miniature Books. Retrieved from


Santa Using Today’s Technology

Santa computer

Photo credit:

"Santa" by Robert Ariail

“Santa” by Robert Ariail Credit:

Drone home delivery

“Drone home delivery” by Dave Granlund (purchased license)

Elf on Kiva

Elf on a Kiva Credit:

Skylon by Reaction Engines

Santa’s future sleigh? Photo credit: Skylon by Reaction Engines