Alumni Profile - Casey Nichols

Alumni Profile
Casey Nichols
B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology 2018, M.S. Applied Energy and Electromechanical Systems, 2019

Current Position
Research Engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

“NREL is a national laboratory in Golden, CO, that leads in energy efficiency and renewable energy science research. I research renewable energy, mainly wind energy and marine renewable energy. In wind, I research new manufacturing methods for composite blades using automation to lower cost. In marine renewable energy, I research and develop embedded monitoring and control systems for field testing and deployments.

“I enjoy my current job because it really allows be to be creative and do things that have never been done. Being a researcher can be difficult but it’s very rewarding when you create something new that has potential to make the world a better place. I think this is amplified by working in renewable energy research because the contributions my colleagues and I make are working towards meeting important goals set out by the U.S. government and many other institutions to establish a renewable energy infrastructure for the U.S. and the rest of the world.”

“My team at NREL received an award for “Team of the Month” for our recent project of deploying 3 thermoplastic blades in the East River of New York with our project partners, Verdant Power. Thermoplastic blades are atypical in industry at this point but the adoption of this material should allow for blade recycling which currently is very difficult or impractical. Thermoset blades are often unrecyclable so switching to a recyclable material should reduce the carbon footprint of marine renewable nergy.”

Memories from UNC Charlotte:
“I really enjoyed my time as a research assistant. The role of research assistant is not only a great learning opportunity but also is an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the scientific community.”

Favorite Engineering instructor:
“My favorite engineering instructor was Dr. Wesley Williams who taught my graduate system dynamics class. Bringing together so many different engineering concepts into one class was very engaging and great practice for real world systems which are usually cross disciplinary and complex.”

What skills you learned at UNC Charotte have helped you most in the workplace? 
“I really appreciate the networking opportunities that are provided to students at UNCC. During my time at UNCC, I participated in several networking events and it proved to be a very useful thing, because of the skills I developed and the people I met at these events.”