University of North Texas

UNT Insider | March 2012 issue | Graduate students win big at international wind energy competition

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Graduate students win big at international wind energy competition

From a UNT News Service press release

Joseph Koruth and Carlos Pena-Sanchez

Joseph Koruth and Carlos Pena-Sanchez
(shown left to right)

Joseph Koruth and Carlos Pena-Sanchez, who are both pursuing their master's degrees in mechanical and energy engineering, demonstrated the strength of UNT's energy engineering program by beating out students from the world's top schools at the Vestas Winnovation Case Challenge in Aarhus, Denmark in February.

Pena-Sanchez and Koruth made the 14-hour journey home from Denmark as members of the first place and runner-up teams, respectively, in the competition sponsored by Vestas, a leading wind-energy company. The competition challenges graduate students to develop out-of-the-box ways to reduce the cost and improve the quality of wind energy.

Pena-Sanchez was part of the winning team and won a cash prize to be used on airfare for an around-the-world trip, which he plans to use to fund his honeymoon later this spring. Koruth was a member of the runner-up team and won an assortment of prizes. UNT and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Zaragoza were the only universities to have two students make it to the final round of competition.

"We were disappointed that we were put on separate teams and had to compete against each other, but when it came down to the final round we were just glad that UNT would be represented on the winning team," Pena-Sanchez says.

Pena-Sanchez and Koruth submitted a solution to the competition in November, and in December they were notified that they were among the 27 finalists selected to make the all-expenses-paid trip to Denmark to participate in the Winnovation finals. Finalists were selected from a pool of hundreds of students from more than 40 countries based on the innovation and viability of their solutions.

Pena-Sanchez and Koruth are both scheduled to graduate in May 2012, and are considering joining Vestas' Graduate Programme soon after. Both students have been mentored by Srinivasan Srivilliputhur, professor of materials science and engineering, and Kuruvilla John, professor of mechanical and energy engineering and associate dean of the College of Engineering.

"Dr. John and Dr. Srivilliputhur really helped us prepare for the competition," Koruth says. "They had us present our case solution, and then they grilled us like they knew the judges would. It was great because when we got to Denmark we knew what to expect and didn't have any problems."

UNT has quickly become a leader in the effort to produce a quality green-collar workforce for Texas and beyond.

Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at

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March 2012

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