Kenneth Starcher

Instructor of Engineering Technology

Office: Engineering Building 221C

Professional Profile

I started as an undergraduate assistant in 1976 working for Dr. Vaughn Nelson. When AEI was formed in 1977, I was one of the student slaves. I have been here ever since. During these 38 years, we have installed more than 85 small renewable systems at our test sites (Nance Ranch, field tests in Borger, Tulia, and Canyon City Well fields, the Wind Test Center, north of the WTAMU campus, USDA, Bushland, TX and the AEI-Regional Wind Test Center (at Nance Ranch)) as well as helping industry in California sites near Palm Springs, wind farms here in Texas and assisting with airfoil/blade design for many others.

We were collecting wind data all over our region and helped companies/agencies with met tower maintenance and installation in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Vermont, Kansas, and Oklahoma. A past project was installing a home-sized system for the Hale County Farm and Ranch Museum for SECO. We also helped the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with Sheldon Lake State Park improvements and incorporating renewables for educational purposes. Several small wind turbines have been built at High Schools in South Texas (Laredo, McAllen/Weslaco) and here in the Panhandle.

I have had the great pleasure to travel to Jamaica, China (5 times), South Africa, Korea, Germany (twice), Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, France, England, Holland (Rotterdam, Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam), Brazil (Manaus, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo), Thailand, Japan (3 times, Tokyo, Hokkaido), Costa Rica, Chile and all over Texas and the USA.

I have learned to program computers and data loggers, collected and analyze data for long term projects and high-speed data for short term tests, produced templates for blade manufacturers to test new thin airfoils, coordinated student/staff schedules examined modal vibrations of wind turbine blades (learning from Rich Osgood of NREL), collected the first flow visualization images of blades from operating wind turbines (Dr. David Eggleston taught me a lot), manufactured VAWT joint fillets (Dr. Woody Stoddard taught us everything) for 34 m vertical axis testbed, and conducted thin airfoil blade tests (with Bruce Andrews).

( ) The people in the parenthesis are the main forces behind each project.

I have worked with lots of people over the years, students, faculty, and foreign interns. A comprehensive 35-year look at AEI is in the works and will be ended now. Each person that has been associated with AEI has left a little bit of new knowledge and hopefully taken away more than they left. As Associate Director of Training Education and Outreach at AEI, I saw that it followed the path charted this last 1/3 century to make renewables more attractive to our world.

Our beloved AEI was closed on Sept 30, 2015, leaving all wind-related work for the UL Wind lab to complete or handle. We had a great run as the best renewable energy training/testing facility at a University in the world. The people we have trained and the methods/discoveries we have seen have helped our industry locally ( Texas #1 in wind capacity) and internationally. Just wish we had made more money at it so the effort could have continued.

As an instructor I will teach and pass along anything that I have learned so that the students get to do things their way, but with the knowledge that it can be done in lots of ways. And my way is just the best.

Teaching and Related Service

Anything to do with space interests me, lots of books on moon exploration and astronautics are on my bookshelf. The MARS lander Spirit/Opportunity is especially interesting as I have my name on the DVDs mounted to the lander frames, part of the Planetary Society effort. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of US manned space flight today too (May 1960 - 2010). I have a soft spot for minerals too, keeping a large collection of rock eggs and spheres that I have collected from all over the world on trips.

I have a computer near me at ALL times. I have worked with lots of systems and the main claim to fame is that of the 5 systems in the Smithsonian display on personal computers in Washington DC -- I have had all of them at one time or another.

Just purchased the -Race for the X Prize- DVD, the flight of SpaceShipOne and that was so great to watch it live when it happened in the JBK here on campus. The movie -The Internship- shows SpaceShipOne hanging in Google Headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. (SpaceShipTwo had its inaugural take off March 2010). And don't forget the SpaceX system orbit later that year (December 2010). And the ISS supply ships from SpaceX as well as their attempts to land on the barge at sea. The Orion EFT NASA test was great to watch also. Been monitoring the Solar Impulse Round the World (RTW) flights that have to stop in Hawaii for an extended time for now.