Spotlight on Hailey Summers, Wind for Schools

By Shelby Condit, Media & Communications Intern, Energy Institute

Hailey Summers is pursuing a doctorate in sustainability modeling at the Colorado State University Energy Institute and is currently working for the Wind For Schools program. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and fosters workforce development and education initiatives for K-12 schools, as well as college programs. Wind For Schools partners with the KidWind Project and the National Energy Education Development Project to provide school curriculum that involves interactive learning.

This curriculum involves installing active wind turbines at the schools, so students can have firsthand experience. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the aim is to “engage America’s communities in wind energy applications, benefits, and challenges.” The program now has 145 wind turbines at schools in 12 states, each featuring a turbine up to 3.7 kW and 70-feet-tall. You can view the interactive map here.

Hailey Summers, PhD Student at Colorado State University Energy Institute, teaches students at JFK High School in Denver. Photo by Ashley Ruiz

Thirteen turbines are located throughout rural areas in Colorado, including nearby Wellington Middle School in Wellington, Colo. and as far out as Walsh High School in Walsh, Colo. in the southeast part of the state.

For her role in the project, Summers travels to rural schools in Colorado to ensure their turbines are running and educates students on the processes and benefits of wind energy. The dynamic of the program is new for Summers, who says, “teaching kids is pretty stress free compared to teaching a collegiate level course. Also, the kids get so excited.”

Wind for Schools wind turbines are located throughout Colorado

This the first year on this project for both Summers and her advisor Jason Quinn, an Energy Institute researcher and assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Colorado State University. They have brought on board a team of interns to help with the technical work, and the he project will wrap up this May. Following that, Summers will transition to two new projects that will be the focus of her dissertation. Both will involve, “social, economic and environmental assessments in the fields of agriculture, food processing and rural wealth,” she said.

Summers earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Utah State University. At the Energy Institute, she is researching sustainability of agriculture, bioprocessing and food-related systems through life cycle and economic analyses. Summers says developing sustainability models involves, “tracking energy and economics.”

Originally from Juneau, Summers lived and worked across Alaska, including as an Environmental Manager for Denali National Park. For fun, Summers says she enjoys anything outside and likes that Coloradoans seem to be like minded. “I bike, ski, climb, hike, backpack, fish — all of the above,” she said.