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CEAS Partners With Technology Company For Student Opportunities

November 1, 2017
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Logilube and UW Mechanical Engineering will partner on a senior design project.

The University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) and LogiLube, a technology company, have agreed to partner on a senior design project to bolster student experience.

The joint project will develop an autonomous way to retrieve oil samples from wind turbines. Led by UW Mechanical Engineering Professor of Practice Lawrence Willey, engineering students will have access to real-world wind energy problems and work with LogiLube staff on a variety of projects the company has secured with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Winergy at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) in Golden, Colo.

“We’re really pleased to have this project with LogiLube and the students are really stoked about working with a local company in the rapidly growing wind energy space,” Willey says. “Further, it’s these type of projects that have the technical challenge and real-world impact that can really generate excitement for our students.”

LogiLube is a Wyoming-based technology company focused on big data predictive analytics and machine learning in the field of intelligent machine health. Its initial target markets include wind energy and oil and gas midstream natural gas compression and transmission. The company developed SmartGear™, a patented real-time oil condition monitoring technology that uses edge analytics to continuously scan for potentially dangerous conditions within wind turbine gearboxes. LogiLube’s SmartOil™ platform is a machine-mounted oil condition monitoring system focused on oil and gas applications, such as natural gas-fired engines and reciprocating compressors used for natural gas compression and transmission.

Currently, the oil-sampling method employed by the wind energy industry is to send a two-man team up the tower to collect samples from a gearbox atop the turbine, which can be 250 feet or more off the ground. This practice put workers in harm’s way and is costly from a labor perspective. The senior design teams aim to find a new way to accomplish the same goal.

“We are excited to have the UW engineering students work with our team to innovate a safer and more reliable way to autonomously collect physical samples of lube oil from the wind turbine gearbox,” LogiLube founder and CEO Bill Gillette says. “These oil samples, when collected during the operation of a spinning wind turbine rotor, provide the 'smoking gun' evidence for an issue that, if left unattended for months on end, could lead to a drivetrain system failure.”

Gillette says resulting solutions from the senior design project could enhance reliability of wind energy equipment, further reducing the cost of electricity and helping wind-park operators avoid downtime and unnecessary maintenance.

LogiLube began operations in 2013 at the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), a UW-based entrepreneurship incubator. From the onset of the company formation, Gillette sought engineering students who had problem-solving skills. Of the eight current employees who operate out of LogiLube’s Beech Street facility in Laramie, seven have roots from the CEAS, ranging from computer science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics and math. The group includes Chas Ogden, Harish Muralidhara, Steven Bagley, Sam Smith and Jake Kirkland. Two UW interns currently work with the company, Fritz Ogden and Paul Damiani.

“Not only are we providing students with an opportunity to work on real-world problems, but we are trying them out for size to see if they are a good fit for our company culture as potential employees,” Gillette says.

The company recently launched the SmartLab™ Mobile App, designed for wind turbine service applications. It was created entirely in-house, largely by a recent graduate from the Department of Computer Science.

“We are so pleased to have LogiLube as a partner for student internships,” Department of Computer Science Head Jim Caldwell says. “Internships provide students with real-world experiences that motivates them in ways coursework alone can rarely do. Students often return from an internship with a deeper appreciation for the quality of the education they receive at UW. It's a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

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