Behind the Scenes at a National Renewable Energy Laboratory Internship

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Internship Program poses for a photo.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a research institute dedicated to innovation in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. For Morgan Jones, whose thesis in fluid dynamics is supervised by Mitul Luhar, Henry Salvatori Early Career Chair and associate professor of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering, NREL has been an ideal site to test out ideas developed in his PhD research.

During a previous internship at the Naval Undersea Warefare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, Jones explored bioinspired designs for marine devices with flapping foils as an alternative to traditional propellor-based vehicles – especially relevant when it comes to rethinking energy-efficient sources for underwater robots. In subsequent internships at NREL’s Colorado campus, Jones’ research experience aligned perfectly with one of the organization’s initiatives known as “Powering the Blue Economy” which partly involves investigating the potential ways to extract power from tides and the ocean.

We caught up with Jones to get a sense of what powers his own thinking – and where the pursuit of new knowledge will take him next.

What first inspired your interest in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies?

As an undergraduate, I first became interested in wind energy when I encountered an innovative research group known as the Dabiri Lab at Caltech. This group focuses on bioinspired fluid dynamics, and one of the papers that really caught my interest was titled “Fish Schooling as a Basis for Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine Farm Design.” I had the opportunity to meet Professor John Dabiri and his graduate students – since then, it’s been my goal to deepen my experience in renewable energy.

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