To help address climate change the Biden administration has established goals of reaching 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Achieving these goals will require continued growth in the U.S. wind energy industry, including a diverse, qualified workforce to fill a wide range of roles.

One successful workforce development program within the U.S. Department of Energy is the Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC), which helps prepare college students for jobs in the wind energy industry through real-world experience with wind energy technology, project development, finance, communications, and outreach.

This year’s competition will take place May 16–18, 2022 in conjunction with the American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas.

The CWC teams will compete in four contests that support the theme of siting, outreach, and development challenges associated with fixed-bottom offshore wind energy projects:

  1. The Turbine Prototype Contest, in which teams design and build an offshore wind turbine prototype.
  2. The Turbine Testing Contest, in which teams will test their turbine prototype in an on-site wind tunnel and sea simulation tank at the CLEANPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition.
  3. The Project Development Contest, in which teams develop a site plan and cost-of-energy analysis for a hypothetical offshore wind farm.
  4. The Connection Creation Contest, in which teams partner with wind energy industry professionals, raise awareness of wind energy in their local communities, and work with local media to promote their accomplishments.

As a promising clean, domestic, and renewable energy source, especially for communities along the nation’s coastlines, offshore wind energy has ramped up in recent years. Increased public and industry interest, combined with the Biden administration’s goal of rapid offshore wind energy deployment and job creation, will likely further propel the offshore wind energy industry to great heights in the coming decades.

“The signs point to a thriving future and thousands of job opportunities for offshore wind energy,” said Elise DeGeorge, a competition manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “As students confront the challenges of the 2022 CWC, they will develop the skills they will need to seize those opportunities and succeed in this growing industry.”

Meet the Teams

Twelve competing teams will represent their colleges and universities at the 2022 competition. Pennsylvania State University will defend its 2021 overall first place and Project Development Contest wins, while Kansas State University and Virginia Tech University will defend their respective Turbine Prototype Contest and Connection Creation Contest wins. In addition to the 12 competitive teams, 4 teams will participate as ‘learn-along’ teams, meaning they are not eligible for awards but may submit the same deliverables and receive feedback on submitted projects from competition judges.

A map of the United States of America and Puerto Rico, titled Class of 2022. Different locations on the maps are marked with the names of the schools competing in the 2022 Collegiate Wind Competition
Twelve competing teams and four learn-along teams are preparing for jobs in the wind energy and renewable energy workforce by participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2022 Collegiate Wind Competition. Graphic from John Frenzl, NREL

“Over the next month, the 2022 teams will be busy fine-tuning their turbine designs, assessing offshore wind energy project development opportunities, engaging with their communities and the wind energy industry, and practicing their presentations as they prepare for the main event in San Antonio,” said DeGeorge. “We’re excited to see what the 2022 CWC teams present, and we wish them the very best of luck!”

Get to know the 2022 teams and learn more about CWC by checking out the 2022 team stories.

The CWC 2023 applications are also open. Learn more about next year’s competition and apply today.

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