Texas Tech University

Our Story

In 1970, an EF5 tornado destroyed downtown Lubbock, causing 26 fatalities and more than $100 million of damage. Texas Tech researchers responded to the tragedy by founding the Institute for Disaster Research. Over the next 50 years, the program evolved, next becoming the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center before eventually merging with the Texas Wind Energy Institute to create the National Wind Institute in 2012.

The work taking place today has expanded far beyond the original focus on wind hazard mitigation. The NWI focuses on three main areas, or pillars, that a majority of the institute's research falls under. The pillars of atmospheric measurement and simulation, energy systems, and wind engineering include subjects like solar power, detailed studies on lightning, and the development of a microgrid. Most importantly, researchers across the institute are looking at ways all of these core research areas affect, or are affected by, humans.


Lubbock, TX, was hit by an EF-5 tornado in May, 1970, the catalyst to form the Institute for Disaster Research (IDR), now the National Wind Institute.

Overhead view of the tornado damage, trees are stripped of leaves, commerical and residential buildings are destoryed.


TTU started the Institute for Disaster Research (IDR) after the May 1970 EF-5 tornadic event impacted Lubbock.

IDR logo shows storm cloud with a lightening bolt and choppy water.


The Xenia, OH, tornado (1974) was one of the catalysts for formation of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) and led to the concept of above-ground shelters.

Home destoryed in Xenia, OH with only a small inner room remaining.  This home became inspiration for the above groundstorm shelter inspiration Ohio


The first International Tornado Symposium is held to discuss tornadoes and wind hazards. This Symposium was one of the first gatherings to bring researchers together to discuss the topic of wind from the perspective of engineering.

Cover of the first International Tornado Symposium, showing a large tornado on the ground.


The 5th U.S. National Conference on Wind Engineering was held from Nov 6-8, 1985, in Lubbock, TX.

 Cover of the program for 5th us national conference of wind engineering. Shown is a depection of a home surrounded by trees withstanding a strong wind.


The Debris Impact Facility (DIF) is commissioned. Research Assistant Professor Larry Tanner has led the DIF since its inception.


Dr. Kishor Mehta and Dr. Ernst Kiesling played a vital part in the addition of building codes for building a safe room in a house to the first FEMA 320 publication.

fema 320 publication cover shows a house plan, tornado on the ground, and a hurricane as seen from above.


The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) is conceived.

Dr. Kiesling promotional photo.


The Wind Science and Engineering (WiSE) Research Center hosts the 11th International Conference on Wind Engineering.

Wind Science and Engineering (wise) host the 11th international Conference on Wind Engineering.  Conference preprints cover states information about the conference.


The Enhanced Fujita Scale is developed at Texas Tech University to update the original Fujita in Scale that was first introduced 1971. Dr. Kishor Mehta was a member of the committee.

Chart shows the F-Scale coverted to EF-Scale


A $1M grant jointly awarded to TTU enables two Ka-Band radar trucks to be developed by a team led by Dr. John Schroeder.

With storm clouds building in the sky, at group of TTU researchers with a ka band truck wach the storm.


Faculty and students took part in Vortex2, the largest effort ever made to understand tornadoes.

photo from above of group of faculy and students with equipment.


The 40th anniversary of WiSE led to a new look and a new logo.

Wind Science & Engineering (WiSE) Research Center 40th anniversary logo show a wind turbine in front of a storm cloud with a lightening bolt.  A ribbon displays the words 40th anniversary.


TTU's NWI and Water Resource Center organized project (with the City of Seminole) to research overlap between wind power and desalination.

heavy equipment and small turbine



NWI moved into new building in Summer 2013.

Outside view of the National Wind Institute (nwi) building


Dr. Eric Bruning was awarded NSF funding to implement a Lightning Map Array project across the region.

Dr. Eric Bruning poses in the field beside a ka-band truck.


Dr. John Schroeder leads $1.4 million DOE radar wind energy/meteorological project.

Headshot of Dr. John Schroeder.


The Texas Workforce Commission awards $1M contract to Texas Tech University and Texas State Technological College for wind energy undergraduate and graduate certificate programs.

Weather radar in the field.  Wind turbine in the distance.


Debris Impact Facility was awarded accreditation by the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).

Board crashing against wall, with pieces of board flying during a test at the Debris Impact Facility.


The Bachelor of Science degree program in Wind Energy is opened in the spring semester of 2012 and has more than 70 students in the process of completing the degree requirements.

first class of graduating students from the Bachelor of Science Degree program in Wind Energy.  Students are posing in their caps and gowns.


The West Texas Mesonet network brought its 100th meteorological instrument platform on-line in November 2016.

Serveral individuals hold a ribbon, which was cut.