NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University’s John and Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center has awarded the 2021 Student Research Fellowship to William Helterbran, Class of ’22, of Chandler, Arizona.

The Peace & War Center awards this annual fellowship, which includes a $2,500 grant, to one undergraduate student to conduct research on the center’s behalf. The award is merit-based and designed to support original undergraduate research.

Helterbran is a mechanical engineering major and a member of the Norwich Men’s Rugby Club. His summer research extends his engineering senior capstone project, building a prototype compact wind turbine for use in an Arctic microgrid. He chose this project to fulfill the need for clean-energy technology in remote locations.

The John and Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center awards this annual fellowship, which includes a $2,500 grant, to one Norwich University undergraduate student to conduct research on the center’s behalf.

Helterbran will present the outcome of his work at the Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium set for Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 on the university’s Northfield, Vermont, campus. His research topic will align with the symposium’s 2021 theme, “Global Conflict or Cooperation? Evolving Arctic Security.”

“My goals for this PAWC (Peace and War Center) fellowship are to apply my engineering knowledge to develop renewable technology for the Arctic region and to develop something worthy of the Norwich name,” Helterbran said.

Marking a first

His engineering capstone project last year got the turbine blade to a prototype phase; this project takes that work to its limit, he said.

“We already have a prototype with generic 3D printed blades that aren’t optimized,” Helterbran said, “so, I’m building blades from the ground up, going through the math and the design process to optimize for Fairbanks, Alaska, because that’s where it’s designed for.”

He is the first engineering major to earn the Norwich PAWC fellowship, which demonstrates the truly cross-disciplinary nature of the opportunity.

“As engineering students, our projects focus more on design than analysis or policy,” he said, adding that he hopes his example will alert students to this opportunity at Norwich.

Helterbran, who plans to graduate in December, is also working with Norwich University and the University of Vermont on a project that improves a heat shield testing apparatus. His aims to have the apparatus ready for UVM’s vacuum chamber in late August.

About Norwich University
Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by U.S. Army Capt. Alden Partridge and is the nation’s oldest private military college. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

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