Wind Turbine Aerodynamics

AERSP 583 Syllabus


AERSP 583: Wind Turbine Aerodynamics

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."


Dr. Susan Stewaart

Dr. Susan W. Stewart
Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University.

  • E-mail: Please use the course e-mail system (see the Inbox tab in Canvas).
  • Office Hours: I will check for and reply to messages at least once per day (often many times). Email will often be the best way to get an efficient response in most situations. Please contact me to make an appointment if you’d like to speak to me at a given time. I am typically flexible and will make every effort to accommodate your schedule. We can set up a time to call or talk via Zoom.

NOTE: Please also consider making use of the Class Discussion Forum on Canvas, because other students may be able to share experience dealing with certain issues. Just like all of us, I have other work and family responsibilities in addition to AERSP 583. So even though I have every intention of addressing questions efficiently, at times I need to delegate my time and plan ahead to get everything done. Because of this, I would like to institute a policy that it is expected that I will read and respond to e-mail and discussion forums at least once per day during the work week (Monday through Friday). I will make an effort to be online occassionally in the evenings and on the weekends, but please don't count on it! Note: This means I will be able to answer questions posted up until NOON on the day before an Assignment is due. There will be no guarantees on anything posted later than noon will be addressed in sufficient time for you to complete the assigned work effectively, so make sure you take this into account as you're planning your own schedule.

    Course Overview

    Suggested Prerequisites: Undergraduate Fluids/Aerodynamics. Solid knowledge of at least 1 programming language (e.g. MatLab, C++, Fortran, etc.) is highly recommended.

    AERSP 583 focuses on the analysis and computational modeling of the aerodynamics of wind turbines and includes a blend of aerodynamic theory and computational methods used for the design of state-of-the-art wind turbines. Included in this is how to utilize design and analysis software employed by the industry.

    Students will be provided with the knowledge and skills in aerodynamics required for a detailed understanding of the turbine design issues that impact siting and project development. Emphasis will be placed on the different levels of abstraction and sophistication in aerodynamic models for wind turbines as well as the critical evaluation of each model’s predictive capabilities.

    This course builds on basic of fluid mechanics, structural mechanics, and systems engineering to provide students with an aerodynamic perspective of a wind turbine including an in-depth understanding of the factors that influence optimal performance.

    When you successfully complete this course, you will be prepared to:

    • Use the gained knowledge in wind turbine blade aerodynamics to predict the structural forces and moments experienced by modern utility-scale wind turbines
    • Analyze a given wind turbine design with state-of-the-art analysis software currently used in the wind industry
    • Design a modern multi-megawatt wind turbine blade

    What I Expect of You

    On average, most students spend eight hours per week working on course material and assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits.

    I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, but in one sense it is no different than a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me, as well as with your fellow students.

    Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed within each lesson. The class schedule is published under the Syllabus tab in Canvas (the course management system used for this course).

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    Required Course Materials

    All materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in Canvas. In order to access all materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (World Campus student) or IT Service Desk (all other campuses).

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    Assignments and Grading

    This course will rely upon a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning, including:

    • Quizzes (14%): Each lesson is accompanied by a quiz or short homework that will assess understanding of the course material.
    • Homework (36%): 6 homework assignments will be given in the semester. These will encourage the use of advanced critical thinking skills, allowing the students to incorporate a broad set of course concepts using a systems perspective. These assignments will be graded on the depth of research, accuracy of results, use of appropriate information sources, and clear communication of results.
    • Exams (50%): A mid-semester exam will assess the student’s understanding of the course material and help provide intermediate feedback on course progress. A final comprehensive exam will assess the overall level of understanding of the material covered in the course.

    It is important that your work be submitted in the proper format to the appropriate Canvas Dropbox or Discussion Forum and by the designated due date. Many of these activities require some interpretation and independent thinking on your part. As you are working on the assignment, you are encouraged to share ideas and questions you may have in the Discussion Forum located in Canvas. I strongly advise that you not wait until the last minute to complete these assignments—give yourself time to ask questions and think things over. You'll learn more and earn a higher grade!

    I will use the Canvas gradebook to keep track of your assessments. You can see your grades in the gradebook, too, by clicking the Grades tab in the AERSP 583 space in Canvas.

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    AERSP 583 Course Schedule

    imagePrintable Schedule

    Below you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is twelve weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Each lesson is one or two weeks long.

    AERSP 583 Course Schedule
    Lesson Tasks
    Course Orientation
    • Perform tasks outlined in course orientation to become familiar with the course and the course environment
    • Post a self-introduction to the discussion forum
    • Complete the Pre-course Survey
    Lesson 1: Wind Turbine Development
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 1
    Lesson 2a: Momentum Theory
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 2a
    Lesson 2b: Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Theory
    • Read Lesson and assigned material (2 weeks !)
    • Quiz 2b 
    • Homework #1
    Lesson 3: Dynamic Loads on Wind Turbine Blades
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 3
    Lesson 4: Wind Turbine Airfoils
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 4
    • Homework #2
    Lesson 5: Wind Turbine Design and Loads Analysis Codes
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 5
    Lesson 6a: Intro to Vortex-Wake Methods
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 6a
    • Homework #3
    • Midterm Exam


    Lesson 6b: Vortex Wake Methods

    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 6b

    Lesson 6c: Free Wake Methods

    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 6c
    • Homework #4
    Lesson 7: Advanced Computational Models
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 7
    Lesson 8: Wind Turbine Optimization
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 8
    • Homework #5
    Lesson 9: Rotational Augmentation and Stall Delay
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 9
    Lesson 10: Wind Turbine in Steady Yaw
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 10
    • Homework #6
    Lesson 11: Wind Turbine Noise Generation and Propagation for Wind Siting Analysis
    • Read Lesson and assigned material
    • Quiz 11

    Final Exam

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    Course Policies

    Mental Health Services

    Mental health services are available to help you maintain your academic success. Visit the student website today to learn more or to speak with a mental health advocate who can help you address concerns including anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and stress. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis situation, please call your local emergency service.

    Technical Requirements

    For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

    Internet Connection

    Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

    Mixed Content

    This site is considered a secure web site which means that your connection is encrypted.  We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted.  This is called mixed content.  By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.  This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed.  Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.


    This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

    Penn State E-mail Accounts

    All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

    Academic Integrity

    This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's Plagiarism Tutorial for Students.

    Course Copyright

    All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

    For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

    Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

    Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Student Disability Resources at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

    In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation, see Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.


    This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

    If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Counseling and Psychological Services

    Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

    Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
    Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
    Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
    Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

    Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

    Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

    Military Personnel

    Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

    Inclement Weather

    In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

    Connect Online with Caution

    Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.

    Deferred Grades

    If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


    This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

    If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


    Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.