McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
And on top of his amassing acclaim and credit for designing a 20-foot-tall wind turbine in Bellingham Bay, he can now add professional experience to his belt.
After hearing about the Bellingham, Wash., turbine, Gowan's senior project at Bellingham High School, PSE offered him a summer internship.
Though the offer was unexpected, Gowan jumped at the chance to start working in his field: renewable wind energy.
He spent the summer climbing turbines, shadowing engineers and mechanics and learning more about how the wind energy process works.
Mike Gowan, Kevin's dad, said he couldn't be more proud of his son and the example he has set for his peers.
"He's really raised the bar for himself and everyone around him," said Mike Gowan, president of an executive search firm. "And he's having a blast doing it."
This summer's experience is only the tip of the iceberg for Kevin. He'll start his sophomore year at Washington State University with thousands of dollars in engineering scholarships and multiple internship offers for next summer.
Among his options for 2008 is an internship with Global Energy Concepts, an international wind energy and engineering firm, and an offer to return to PSE.
"I'm still deciding what I'll do, but it would be great to get out and try something different," Gowan said.
How does a teenager go straight from high school to a professional job? Gowan had some advice for his peers: "Go out and look for local people to support your cause; help is there. If you've got a fire for your goal, it won't die."
It isn't always easy, he said, but always worth it in the end.
"Sometimes I get tired, but you have a greater appreciation for your work when you give it personal application," he said, referring to his senior project.
It took four years for his wind project to culminate, from a working model in ninth grade to a city-funded turbine his senior year. The turbine on Bellingham Bay now powers two spotlights on a dock owned by Georgia-Pacific West Inc.
Gowan said anyone with a little willpower can turn an idea into reality.
ABOUT WIND ENERGY
How a wind turbine works:
Wind, a form of solar and kinetic energy, is converted to mechanical power after blowing through the turbine. That power can be used for electricity or specific tasks such as grinding grain. Advantages to wind energy:
Doesn't pollute the air or produce atmospheric emissions.
Renewable and abundant. Wind is one of the lowest-priced renewable energy technologies today, costing between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Turbines have a small economic footprint and take up a very small amount of land.
SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
(c) 2007, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill.
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