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Collegiate Wind Competition Prepares Students to Enter the Wind Energy Workforce

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  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • We had 2014 sponsors but do not have sponsors lined up for future competitions yet

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Elise.DeGeorge@nrel.gov, 303-384-7136

Two men are shown working on an engine atop a wind turbine with mountains and blue sky in the background.

More than 150 students from 10 institutions across the United States are now better prepared to enter the wind industry workforce, thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. The Collegiate Wind Competition challenges undergraduate students to design a wind turbine based on market research, develop a business plan to market the product, build and test the turbine against set requirements, and demonstrate knowledge of siting constraints and location challenges for product installation. The wind industry needs more qualified people with skills in these areas to fill key jobs such as scientists, educators, design and research engineers, technical workers, and project managers.

The inaugural Collegiate Wind Competition took place in 2014 at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Annual Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pennsylvania State University was the overall winner of the inaugural competition, and the team's winning turbine was displayed at Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Now a 2016 competition is in the works, which will challenge teams to design and construct a wind-driven power system to supply electricity to non-grid connected device(s) for off-grid applications.

NREL has provided the organizational and technical support for the Collegiate Wind Competition since its inception, including designing the Competition and the accompanying rules and requirements, designing safety protocols and ensuring that they are adhered to, and overseeing the judging of the contest segments. NREL engineers designed and built the wind tunnel in which all of the team's turbines were tested, and these same engineers were on hand during the Competition to oversee the testing. NREL's communications team led the development of the public website and the guidance document for the teams and sponsors.

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