Prof. Andy Goupee Surrounds Himself with Wind and Water

Engineering Professor Andrew “Andy” Goupee enjoys the outdoors — hiking, biking, camping, and swimming, surrounded by wind and water. And wind and water are also the focus of his research interests. Goupee has conducted research on floating wind turbines, first as a research assistant professor at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, and since 2014 in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Goupee, a resident of Dedham, is the October recipient of the Alumni Association’s monthly Faculty Excellence Award. He took a few moments to respond to our questions.

In layperson’s terms, what are your academic (teaching, research, scholarship) interests?

On the teaching side I spend most of my time on a Wind Energy Engineering course (a 400-level technical elective co-listed in Mechanical and Civil Engineering) I developed and our Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design course sequence (a two-course sequence over the entire year). Regarding research, much of my work in recent years has involved floating wind turbine research employing numerical simulations and scale model testing. I enjoy research in other areas as well (e.g., I have an active project looking at improving aquaculture technologies for incubating oysters, I just completed a research project with NASA, etc.).

Why did you choose to pursue those interests?

The wind energy course was an outgrowth of my research while I was working at the Composites Center. While I was employed at the Center wind energy research was on the rise here at UMaine, yet there was little in the way of engineering coursework students could take to prepare them for this specific area. The course has proven to be a very popular technical elective (I average ~60 students per semester; I’ve got 69 this semester), which I think is great. As for Capstone Design, an opportunity arose a couple of years ago to become an instructor for the course, and I volunteered. I think the course is a very important part of our students’ education as it provides a real-world work simulation where students have to tackle open-ended design projects in a team environment. I also very much enjoy teaching this course with my colleague Alex Friess (we co-teach the course).

On the research side, I enjoy my floating wind turbine research for a couple of reasons; first, it presents a pretty complicated multi-physics problem that’s fun to work on and second, I enjoy the collaboration it offers me with the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. I have several colleagues at the Center who I think very highly of and very much enjoy working on research projects with.

What is your most memorable event or experience as a member of the UMaine faculty?

Generally speaking, my experiences have been very positive as a UMaine faculty member, and as such, no specific moment stands out above the rest.  It’s not a specific moment, but I’d say my favorite experience has been witnessing, and participating in, the recent growth and development of the Mechanical Engineering Department. We’ve got a fairly new, motivated Department Chair, several new bright junior faculty, a new Engineering Building on the way that will be our new home in the future, etc. In short, it has been very exciting to be a part of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Of all the courses you’ve taught at UMaine, which one do you enjoy the most? Why?

It’s kind of an unoriginal answer, but to be honest, I really like teaching most any course that I’m signed up for. Teaching is something I really value and I put a lot of effort in to every class I teach. That said, if I had to pick one, I think I like teaching our sophomore-level dynamics course the most. I enjoy teaching engineering science courses, I enjoy the topic of dynamics, and it’s a chance for me to help build some of the foundational knowledge our students will need later on in their academic and professional careers.

What is your favorite place on campus to spend time?

That’s a pretty easy one; the University Forest.  I spend a fair bit of time running and mountain biking on the trails.

Aside from your faculty role, what are your interests or favorite things to do?

Number one is family activities. My wife, daughter, and I spend a lot of time outside (hiking, swimming, camping, etc.). I like to run and bike a fair bit if I can make the time and occasionally compete in local races.

What advice for students do you have to help them succeed?

As simple as it seems, students can get pretty far by just showing up to class and turning in their assignments on time. I stress those two behaviors as keys to success at the beginning of any course I teach.

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.