Mechanical Engineering senior
After Alvaro Martinez’s mom passed away in 2004, he grew up with his grandmother. She watched him graduate from Cal Poly in June.
“My grandmother always wanted me to go to college—it just took a little while,” says Alvaro, who first attended community college after being laid off as a technician for a commercial airliner.
For his senior project, Alvaro helped design and build the drivetrain and overspeed protection for a wind turbine nacelle. Sporting a Mustang wind vane, the nacelle will be used at the Cal Poly Wind Power Research Center.
“I was attracted to the project because it’s about renewable energy and it involved a lot of different engineering disciplines, like composites—the faring itself is made out of fiberglass and steel, and the wind vane is aluminum,” notes Alvaro.
“The innovative aspect of our design is its brake system. This is a utility-type turbine; it will provide great exposure for students interested in going into the wind energy industry.
“I’m really into energy, really enjoying studying fluid dynamics and thermodynamics,” says Alvaro. “But, I tell you, being an engineering student is stressful; I can’t imagine working too. That’s why I’m so grateful for scholarships—they make it possible for me to be where I am.”