The roots of the National Wind Institute run almost fifty years deep. In the spring of 1968, a powerful sandstorm blew through Texas Technological College, taking down two light standards at the school’s football stadium. As the relatively-new structures had been designed to withstand such winds, two of the college’s engineering professors, Kishor Mehta and James McDonald, thought that the incident bore investigation. Two years later, on May 11, 1970, a massive group of tornados struck the surrounding city of Lubbock, killing 26 people, injuring over 1,500, and doing over $200 million in damage (in 1970 dollars). The day after the storm, Mehta and McDonald hurried to investigate as much as they could of the wreckage strewn along its path, knowing that the evidence of how the storm winds worked would be quickly destroyed during rescue, recovery, and clean-up. They were joined by two other engineers from what was now Texas Tech University, Ernest Kiesling and Joe Minor, and by the end of the first day, the group realized the need for focused study on wind and wind damage.
From the beginning, their work was interdisciplinary and soon involved researchers from atmospheric science, economics, and social science. The focus of their work broadened as well, first strictly on wind mitigation, then on education, and eventually including wind energy. Along the way, the organization added faculty, students, and degree programs to include the doctoral level. At the time of this writing, 2014, it is among the most highly-regarded wind science and energy programs of any university anywhere.
The collection includes oral history interviews from most of the key founders and developers of the program, along with a substantial number of leaves of documents.
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