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In 1942, Duke University's Electrical Engineering Department had the only Lightning Generator in the South. The apparatus was developed to better understand the forces involved in thunderstorms and add protection to areas and buildings susceptible to lightning damage. Duke University's Lightning or Surge Generator was capable of putting out 500,000 volts and 15,000 amperes per surge within a millisecond, equivalent values of natural lightning. Work began in 1940 as an elective course for senior electrical engineering students and the first test run happened in March 1942.