Engineering of Wind Project Development

AERSP 886 Syllabus


Syllabus: AERSP 886 - Engineering of Wind Project Development

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."


Susan Stewart

Dr. Susan W. Stewart
Senior Research Associate and Associate 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 efficienct 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.  I can talk via phone or Skype.

NOTE: Please also consider making use of the "Questions and Answers" 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 886. 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 (more likely several times) 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.

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Course Overview

AERSP 886 is focused on the technical, logistical, and business project development aspects of wind energy at the wind farm system level. Upon completion of the course students will have an understanding of how to make the most of a wind project site from a performance, logistics and environmental perspective and be able to apply industry standard design and analysis tools. Topics covered include wind project development issues, wind project financial modeling, wind siting and conceptual layout of a wind power plant, atmospheric boundary layer effects, wind power forecasting, wind turbine aerodynamics as related to wind turbine/farm wake modeling, offshore considerations, and wind farm control strategies.

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What will be expected of you?

This course requires a minimum of 8-12 hours of student activity each week, depending on the speed at which you work. Included in the 8-12 hours each week is time to complete assignments, projects and related activities. Some weeks, you may spend less time than that, so keep this in mind in the tougher weeks (when you'll be making up the difference!). You'll be glad to know that you don't have to show up for class at a certain time! All you need to do is complete each project and a quiz before the published deadline at the end of the week.

You will need to check out the course discussion forums regularly (you can register to receive automatic updates). That's where students and the instructors share comments, pose questions, and suggest answers. I strongly encourage you to get in the habit of logging in to the course website every day to check in on the class. With only occasional exceptions, I check message boards six (and usually seven) days a week. You can be sure that I will read, but not necessarily respond to, every single message. If I anticipate not logging in for more than a day, I will let you know and also clearly state when you can next expect to hear from me.

Course Goals and Outcomes

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • compile a financial proforma for a wind power project.
  • optimize a site from a performance, logistics and environmental perspective.
  • understand the limitations in industry design and analysis tools.
  • be a leader for change as external considerations in wind project development shift.
  • apply knowledge of wake interactions to assess the layout of a proposed wind farm site plan.

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Required Course Materials

In order to take this course, you need to have the required course materials and an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). All (other) materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in Canvas. In order to access the online 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 IT help. If you are a World Campus student please contact the World Campus Help Desk. If you are a University Park or Commonwealth Campus student, please contact the IT Service Desk.


This course does not have a required textbook, but the Wind Energy Handbook, Second Edition, by Tony Burton. 2011 will be referred to from time to time as will other online resources. You can access this in its entirety online via the Penn State library.

Required Hardware and Software

It will be necessary to have access to a computer which you can load software onto for this course. Excel is also required. It is likely that you will be provided with a temporary license for AWS TruePower's OpenWind software.

All other 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 (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

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Weekly Assignments and Grading

AERSP 886 will rely upon a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning, including:

  • Quizzes (15%): Each lesson is accompanied by a quiz that will assess understanding of the course material. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped.
    • Anticipatory Questions: Each lesson will begin with anticipatory questions. You are asked to give the question(s) a couple minutes of thought before you begin reading through the lesson material and jot down your initial thoughts in the entry box. Perhaps think of it as a hypothesis on the answer. You are not graded on the accuracy of this submission. Instead, there will be a question on the quiz at the end of the lesson which asks you to reflect on this question again based on what you've learned in the lesson. You will receive full credit on this question if you have both answered the original Anticipatory question and written a thoughtful response on the quiz. If you have not answered the anticipatory question, your quiz response will be reduce by 1/2 of the point value of the question.
  • Assignments (total od 40%): The assignments will take on a variety of formats throughout the course of the semester.
    • Discussion Assignments (10%): These will be completed in a Canvas discussion board specific for the assingment.  Discussion assignments will involve responding to essay-type questions or conducting individual research and providing a summary of results.  These assignments encourage the use of advanced critical thinking skills. Assignments will be graded on the depth of research, accuracy of results, use of appropriate references, and clear communication of results. 
    • Homework Assignments (15%): Some problems will require traditional engineering calculations and formal reporting of results.  Assignments will be graded on using the correct methods for solving, accuracy of results, and clear communication of both the method and the results.
    • Case Studies (15%): Some assignments or portions of assignments will be distinguished as Case Studies.  These are intended to be more open ended questions that simulate real world situations you might experience in the work environment. In the real world, you are not always provided with every detail you need to solve a problem, but you will need to seek out some answers and make engineering judgements as you pursue a solution.  You will be encouraged to communicate with other course participants as you formulate your own individual response to these case studies. Discussion boards will be created to stimulate this discussion and in some cases an industry representative will be available to also answer questions to help guide your responses.  Assignments will be graded on the description of the methodology used, a clear presentation of all assumptions made and any references (or otherwise justifications) needed to back up these assumptions, accuracy of the results (within a margin of error) as well as clear communication of the results. 
  • Exams (2 x 15%): Two mid-semester exams will be used to assess the students’ comprehension of the course material and to provide intermediate feedback on course progress.
  • Project (15%): a comprehensive final project, completed individually, will assess the overall level of understanding of the material covered in the course.

**Note that adherence to standards of the University's Academic Integrity Policy are expected in every aspect of this course.  Submissions to discussion assignments, quizzes, exams, and homework assignments are to be in your own words or properly cited as necessary.  Please see the Course Policy section below. 

The course has 9 lessons. Some lessons are 1 week in length and some lessons are 2 weeks long. There is a mid-term exam and a final project. In each of the lessons, to reach course objectives, students will read lectures, and do homework assignments as well as complete a quiz based on the lesson material.

It is important that your work is submitted in the proper format to the appropriate Assignment 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 "Questions and Answers" Discussion Forum located in Canvas. I will read daily and reply as needed. I strongly advise that you not wait until the last minute to complete these assignments—give yourself time to ask questions, think things over, and chat with others. You'll learn more, do better...and be happier!

Grades are assigned by the percentage of possible points earned in each Lesson's activities, as shown below.

Grade Weighting
Item Grade
Quizzes (average of best 8 scores out of 9) 15%
Discussion Assignments 10%
Homework Assignmnets 15%
Case Studies 15%
Mid-Term Exams (2x15%) 30%
Final Project 15%

I will use the Canvas gradebook to keep track of your grades. You can see your grades by clicking on the Grades tab in Canvas. Overall course grades will be determined as follows. Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned.

Letter Grades

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages (percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student):

Letter Grades
Grade Percent
A 93 - 100%
A- 90 - 92.9%
B+ 87 – 89.9%
B 83 - 86.9%
B- 80 – 82.9%
C+ 77 – 79.9%
C 70 – 76.9%
D 60.0 – 69.9%
F < 60.0%

Assignment/Case Study Submissions

There will be activities to complete in most lessons. The activities will be "turned-in" via assignments in Canvas.

It is recommended that the first thing a student does before beginning lesson readings is to review the week's materials and assignments.

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Course Schedule

The course schedule will be in Canvas during the first week of the semester. As the schedule may change, please be sure to check it often! If you have a question about when something is due, ask your instructors! NOTE: If at any time you cannot get a reading, e-mail the instructor immediately, and a pdf can be sent. I prefer to link to the readings, but links change all the time!

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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 Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help 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 Outreach 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 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.

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 and Psychological 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 with 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.