MacDonald receives Spanish scholarship

     CARIBOU, Maine — A Caribou High School graduate recently traveled to Spain to receive a prestigious scholarship presented by the country’s king and queen.

     Danielle MacDonald, who graduated from CHS in 2010, is presently studying for her master of science degree in civil engineering at the University of Maine at Orono, and was the recipient of an Iberdrola USA Foundation Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year — the only one awarded to a United States citizen at the Maine university.

     “Receiving this scholarship was such a great honor, and I am very pleased and feel very blessed to be able to continue my education and achieve a master’s degree without the financial burden,” MacDonald said. “Renewable and sustainable energy has been a great interest for me and being able to be a part of that future is so rewarding. Iberdrola has been very generous in their support.”

     The daughter of Dan and Gisele MacDonald of Caribou, she traveled with her parents to Madrid for the special scholarship awards ceremony, where she received her award from Their Royal Highnesses King Felipe and Queen Letizia. After a few days exploring Madrid, they took a train to Barcelona to spend the remainder of the week bicycling the city and enjoying the beautiful beaches.

     “The journey to Spain was a new and exciting experience for me since it was the first time I have traveled to Europe,” MacDonald commented. “There was so much to do and see with the history, the architecture and the culture, and on top of that to get to meet King Felipe and Queen Letizia and shake hands … what a unique experience, and not one I am likely to forget!”

     She earned her bachelor’s degree from UMaine in civil engineering with a minor in renewable energy engineering, and will complete her master’s program in May 2016. MacDonald worked at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center on the offshore wind turbine project during undergraduate studies, and as a graduate research assistant she has been working to design new durable lightweight concrete for use in marine application such as the wind turbine platforms, cargo ships, oil rigs and other marine structures.

     “Concrete is not the first material someone would think of using for a floating structure, but it is possible and a very economical alternative to steel,” she explained. “Being able to be a part of a team to investigate such an idea and to make it reality is beyond rewarding.”

     Global energy company Iberdrola SA, a Spanish public multinational electric utility company based in Bilbao, Spain, established the scholarship program in 2010. Application is open to graduate students who wish to pursue work in renewable energy, environmental protection, climate change and energy efficiency. The grants cover full tuition, health and accident insurance and a $25,200 annual stipend.

     MacDonald was also awarded an Iberdrola USA Foundation Scholarship for the 2014-15 year.