A man in a suit and glasses smiles for the camera.

A principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Jason Jonkman encourages people from all backgrounds to consider joining the wind industry.

Photo courtesy of Jason Jonkman, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

This Clean Energy Champion, Jason Jonkman, is a powerhouse of innovation. A principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Jonkman is the lead developer of both OpenFAST and FAST.Farm, which are multiphysics engineering tools for designing and analyzing land-based and offshore wind turbines and wind farms. Jonkman performs studies to verify, validate, and apply tools to wind turbine design and analysis and provides technical support to designers and researchers throughout the wind energy industry, so he’s proven to be a pivotal player for the progress of wind energy technology. He even recently won a coveted Viterna Award for Excellence in Engineering from the Business Network for Offshore Wind's Ventus Awards for helping launch the floating offshore wind sector through computer modeling of dynamic loads.

When asked about his favorite wind energy fun fact, Jonkman finds himself reflecting on the comparison between the airspace industry—which he previously worked for—and the wind energy industry. “Aircrafts involve daily and weekly operations and maintenance, while wind turbines involve operations and maintenance at a frequency of 6 months per year, even though they operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," he said. "And despite these differences, wind turbines are 100 times cheaper than aircrafts!” 

When asked about advice for anyone interested in entering the wind energy industry, Jonkman implores those from all backgrounds to join us in our endeavor to foster a clean energy future. “I would say that solving wind energy’s grand challenges that are needed to realize wind energy’s full potential to address climate change will require a large range of skill sets,” he noted. “These include all kinds of engineering—like airspace, mechanical, electrical, civil, and industrial—from entry-level to Ph.D. scientists, technicians, legal, and management.”