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Collegiate Teams on Track for May Competition

April 5, 2016

Twelve collegiate teams are gearing up for the biannual U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2016, to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 23–25, 2016, in conjunction with the AWEA WINDPOWER 2016 Conference & Exhibition. Since the inaugural competition in 2014, the number of competing teams has increased—and so has the diversity—hailing from colleges and universities across the United States, including Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Teams for the Collegiate Wind Competition 2016 include:

  • Boise State University
  • The California Maritime Academy
  • California State University, Chico
  • Kansas State University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • The Pennsylvania State University
  • Universidad del Turabo (Puerto Rico)
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Collegiate Wind Competition inspires and prepares students from multiple disciplines to enter the wind energy workforce. For the competition, teams conceptualize a market and turbine to meet the competition’s theme. They then conduct and gather market research to inform their business idea and turbine concept.

For the Collegiate Wind Competition 2016 event, teams spent the first half of the academic year talking with potential customers, existing turbine manufacturers, funding sources, and local jurisdictions to build a strong business plan, turbine concept, and deployment strategy. This initial work pokes holes in their business idea and turbine concept, giving them time to improve it, and decide if there really is a need for their product in their defined market and why that particular market would purchase this product. From this market research, teams will be able to demonstrate design and business decisions and justify their product to the competition judges. In the upcoming months ahead, teams will build, test, and make ongoing changes to their system until they have the design they will bring to New Orleans. For each competition contest, teams are required to prepare products (as shown in Table 1).

For this year’s competition, contestants will design and construct a wind-driven power system that can supply electricity to device(s) that are not connected to the grid (for off-grid applications). This involves creating an effective electrical and electronic design of a wind turbine that is efficient and safe to operate, developing a load system that represents a real-world need that can match the power being generated, and ensuring that the overall mechanical and aerodynamic turbine design is safe and reliable.

As part of their commitment to cultivate the spirit of the competition in the broader community, teams have been engaging with their university student body, communities, alumni, and the local wind industry. To date, some teams have:

  • Showcased their project in a department-sponsored event, which is often open to middle and high school students and the community
  • Reached out to local middle schools to host KidWind challenges and elementary schools to host workshops. The undergraduate students will team up with the younger students to explain wind turbine concepts, build model wind turbines with them, and show them prototype three-dimensional blades and their competition turbine
  • Presented their competition products to team sponsors
  • Attended a regional summit or engineering expo to meet industry professionals.

Learn more about the individual teams competing in this year’s event.

In conjunction with the Collegiate Wind Competition 2016, KidWind is hosting its national challenge onsite. This education pavilion will provide a time and place for students—ranging from middle school to undergraduate—to test their designs, challenge their thinking, and learn.

—Kelly Yaker