A student installs his team’s turbine in a wind tunnel for a test during the CWC 2019 Technical Challenge.
Werner Slocum, NREL

Meeting the Biden administration’s goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero-carbon economy by 2050 will require continued growth in the U.S. wind energy industry. This growth will call for qualified workers to not only manufacture, construct, operate, and maintain wind turbines but also to play a wide range of support roles in the industry. 

To help facilitate filling these roles, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory created the Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) in 2014. The competition aims to prepare undergraduate students from multiple disciplines to enter the wind energy workforce by providing real-world technology experience.  

Any team that consists of students at a four-year college or university in the United States with or without students from international or two-year institutions can apply to compete.  

The 2023 CWC uses a timeline and application process adjusted from past years to expand the potential teams and schools competing in this annual competition. Students, faculty, and student groups applied through a straightforward application submission, rather than a formal request for proposals as they did for past competitions. Check out the General Competition Timeline to learn more.

Starting in 2021, the CWC organizing team also began inviting learn-along teams to participate. This allows students to participate in the competition and establish a deeper understanding of the wind energy industry and the competition, despite being ineligible for awards. 

About the 2023 Competition

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the colleges and universities selected to participate in Phase 1 of the 2023 CWC.  

The 2023 CWC is scheduled to take place in May 2023 in conjunction with American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER 2023 Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

Learn more about how to get involved in the CWC.

General Competition Timeline

Throughout the school year leading up to the competition, participating teams design, build, and test a prototype wind turbine; develop a site plan and cost-of-energy analysis for a wind farm; conduct outreach with the wind industry, their local communities, and local media outlets; and submit reports on each of these activities. The competition culminates each spring, when teams conduct final turbine testing and present their work to a panel of wind energy experts.  

Each Early Spring: CWC organizers release the application process and deadline to apply to the next year’s competition. Interested teams fill out an application to compete in the upcoming school year.  

Each Early Summer: CWC organizers select the teams who will participate in Phase 1 of the competition, which takes place during the first half of the upcoming school year. Project funds are available to the participating teams as part of a funding request process. 

Each Winter: CWC organizers narrow the Phase 1 teams to those who will participate in Phase 2 during the second half of the school year.

Each Late Spring: Phase 2 teams present their work at the final CWC event, typically held in conjunction with American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER Conference & Exhibition.