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News Release NR-0709

NREL Names New Wind Center Director

Fort Felker to begin new position May 18, 2009

May 14, 2009

Dr. Fort F. Felker has been named director of the National Wind Technology Center at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  Felker, a co-founder of Winglet Technology LLC, and former director of engineering analysis and test at Kenetech Windpower, begins his new position May 18.

“Dr. Felker’s 30 years of aeronautical and mechanical engineering research and technology development expertise, combined with his public and private sector experience, brings critical leadership to DOE’s and NREL’s national wind program,” said Robert Hawsey, NREL associate director of renewable electricity and end use systems.

Felker was most recently vice president of Winglet Technology, a company that has commercialized his patented design of “elliptical winglets” for business aircraft, an invention that reduces drag and fuel consumption, improving the range and takeoff performance of aircraft.  Before his 6-year stint as an entrepreneur, Felker was an engineering analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he developed the underlying theory and computational modeling for hypersonic flow about re-entry vehicles undergoing extreme maneuvers.   He also served as a senior scientist at Livermore Software Technology Corp.

From 1994-1996, Felker worked in senior engineering positions at Kenetech Windpower.  As manager of engineering modeling, he was responsible for developing wind turbine engineering analysis tools to solve engineering problems.  Later as director of engineering analysis and test, he led a team of engineers and technicians in testing of large wind turbine systems.  His early experience includes nine years with NASA Ames Research Center and six years with the U.S. Army Research and Technology Labs. 

Felker holds one patent and is the author of 29 publications.  He is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautics and astronautics. He has a master’s of science and a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.

Felker succeeds Dr. Robert Thresher who was appointed an NREL Research Fellow in 2008, and Dr. Michael Robinson, who has been acting center director for the past year.

“I want to thank Mike for his outstanding service over the past year,” said Hawsey. “During this period Mike has developed new research and development partnerships that are bringing commercial-scale wind turbines to NREL, and he has forged new alliances with universities and other agencies.”

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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