Learn more about the expertise and technical skills of the water power research team and staff at NREL.
Center Director I-Technical
Dr. Daniel Laird is director of the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). Laird also serves as an executive committee member of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Atmosphere to Electrons Wind Plant Optimization Initiative and provides leadership in the focus areas of high-fidelity modeling, wind power plant controls, and rotor dynamics. Prior to joining NREL in 2015, he spent 19 years at Sandia National Laboratories leading wind energy and water power research efforts in structural analysis and simulation, computational design tools, advanced manufacturing, composite materials, and blade reliability.
Laboratory Program Manager- Water Power
Al has been part of the Wind and Water Power Program Management Team at NREL since 2009. He helped establish NREL's new Water Power Program and built the technical team that focuses on marine and hydrokinetic technologies. As Water Power Laboratory Program Manager, Al is responsible for planning and executing NREL's portfolio of DOE-sponsored marine and hydrokinetic and hydropower projects along with having primary responsibility for establishing productive partnerships with external organizations. Prior to joining NREL, Al managed Strategy and Business Development at an early stage R&D informatics company and worked as a management consultant on a diverse set of engagements ranging from technology market opportunity assessments to information management optimization to support R&D decision making and planning. Al was also a Senior Staff Scientist at Baxter CardioVascular, where he conducted research on the failure mechanisms of heart valve implants and developed design modifications to increase their operational lives.
Acting Laboratory Program Manager II-Multi Discipline
Brian Smith is the partnership manager for the NWTC and focuses on portfolio diversification, capability enhancement, and strategy. Smith joined NREL in 1988, first as a test engineer for advanced airfoil blades and then as the project leader for advanced wind technology development and field verification partnerships with industry. He managed the DOE Turbine Research and DOE-Electric Power Research Institute Turbine Verification Program activities at NREL in the 1990s that helped reinvigorate the development and deployment of wind technology and power plants in the United States. Smith served as the manager of NREL's Laboratory Wind and Water Power Program from 2002 to 2014 and acting NWTC director from 2014 to 2015. He is the U.S. alternate member and vice chair of the executive committee for the International Energy Agency's Technology Collaboration Program for Wind Energy Systems Research, Development, and Demonstration.
Jochem is the Chief Engineer at NREL's Water Power Program, where he pursues a holistic deductive system approach to problem solving in research, science, engineering, technology, innovation, and management. He holds degrees in mechanical engineering (design) and physical engineering (fluid and system dynamics), and a Ph.D. in modeling and optimization of wave energy converters. Jochem has over 25 years of scientific and corporate work experience in research, technology development, and engineering in self-employment, small, medium, and large enterprises and academia, with 16 years of research technology development of ocean wave energy converters and five years as Head of Research at Wavebob. Prior to joining NREL, Jochem led a high technology performance level wave energy converter concept development project at the Centre for Ocean Energy Research in Ireland and provided consultancy services to the wave energy industry through Liberal Synergies.