April 14, 2016

Remembering Jack Templin

One of the very first Friends of Wind – I wish I had met him!

Every year at our annual conference, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) presents the R.J. Templin Award, honoring those individuals whose scientific, technical, engineering or policy work has significantly advanced wind energy in Canada. So far 31 organizations and individuals have received the award, and the list reads like a who’s who of industry pioneers whose passion and commitment transformed what was once an experimental technology into one of the most exciting chapters in Canada’s energy story.

One of the early recipients, I noticed as I scanned the list, was the man after whom the award was named. Jack Templin won it in 1986, the second year it was offered, and not long before he retired from the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa after 43 years as an aeronautical engineer.

I’ve been thinking about who Jack Templin was, and the contribution he made to Canada’s wind industry, ever since CanWEA received word that he passed away February 7 at the age of 93. I never met Jack, but his former colleagues remember him for his intelligence, curiosity, modesty and good nature.

They also remember him as a scientist, through and through. Jack joined the NRC after graduating from the engineering physics program at the University of Toronto in 1944. He worked on all kinds of aerodynamic problems throughout his career, from analyzing aircraft performance to performing wind tunnel simulations of the forces acting on buildings, bridges and vehicles. His last area of activity at the NRC was wind energy, where he was part of a team developing vertical axis wind turbine technology.

It was a time when a whole network of scientists and research labs around the world were working out the technical principles and designing the systems that started the industry on the path to where it is today.

“The NRC was involved in much of the basic aerodynamic research in the initial development of wind technology around the world. Jack is a classic pioneer in that he, and others, started the long process of developing modern wind technology,” says Carl Brothers, himself a winner of the R.J. Templin Award. “The initial R&D work conducted by Jack and his peers, in the 1970s and 80s, cleared the forest for the technology evolution that continues today.”

Jack was a leading member of the technical advisory committee that oversaw work at the Atlantic Wind Test Site on Prince Edward Island, he worked collaboratively with partner organizations like the Sandia Laboratories in the U.S. to share knowledge and information, and he was there the day CanWEA was formed in 1984.

Jason Edworthy, also an R.J. Templin Award winner, recalls that Jack seemed faintly amused by the exuberance of the early entrepreneurs who saw commercial opportunity in this nascent technology.

“Ultimately he was a research guy, but I think he was pleased people were paying attention to the technology and interested in the science,” Edworthy says. “I just always remember him in the background. If someone asked him something, or he though something was really off the rails, he would just quietly help with a course correction.”

When you work in a dynamic and growing industry like I do, it is easy to get caught up in the here and now. It was a privilege for me to not only learn a little bit about the man who lent his name to one of CanWEA’s most important and prestigious awards, but also about the early work that was fundamental to making wind energy the mature and mainstream power source it is today. Although I never had a chance to get to know Jack Templin, I like to think of him as one of the very first Friends of Wind.

To read more about work completed by Jack Templin look out for our upcoming summer issue of WindSight. To learn more about CanWEA Awards, visit our award winners page.


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