Regional
9:20 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

NMSU Las Cruces Faculty Member Lends A Hand In Afghanistan

Las Cruces – A New Mexico State university faculty member is helping improve the lives of people through his role in the erection of a windmill in a village in Afghanistan.

Craig Runyan, NMSU extension water resource specialist, traveled to Afghanistan to install irrigation systems as part of the NMSU-led Afghanistan Water, Agriculture and Technology Transfer program.

While there, Runyan worked for several days with the South Carolina National Guard Agricultural Development Team on an irrigation project. The SC-ADT also showed interest in obtaining and establishing a windmill demonstration unit.

Windmills are a proven, durable and low-maintenance technology. They are ideal for Afghanistan, because many places around the country do not have electricity, and fossil fuels are very expensive.

A non-profit organization donated $5,000 to go toward a windmill and the Aermotor Windmill Company agreed to donate the rest of the amount needed for a windmill. The company also took care of shipping the windmill to the soldiers in Afghanistan.

When the South Carolina National Guard finished its tour of duty in August, their replacement unit from Nevada agreed to continue with the windmill project.

The Nevada unit successfully installed the windmill at a provincial agricultural center. Runyan assisted the Nevada National Guard team through e-mail during the installation. The windmill is helping provide clean drinking water and irrigation water for the villagers and the center. Requests for advice and assistance with similar projects have since come to Aermotor and Runyan from other military units in Afghanistan.

"One of the biggest things I got out of this trip was seeing the dedication the soldiers have to their mission," Runyan said. "I feel lucky to be connected to this project. It's a very honorable mission."

Because they are still a viable energy means, NMSU recognizes the need for education about windmills and maintains expertise in windmill technology.

In fact, NMSU is a leader of windmill technology in the nation, and is the only institution to offer a hands-on instruction program. Participants from around the world attend the windmill workshop, which is held in May. NMSU's partnership with Aermotor allows for sales representatives and service technicians to attend the workshop to provide training and materials.