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 goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero-carbon-emissions 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 Department of Energy (DOE) 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 four-year college or university in the United States can apply to participate in the competition, and teams can be composed of any number of students. Organizers typically select 10–13 teams to compete each year, but this could change in the future to broaden the competition’s reach.

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.

About the 2022 Competition
Twelve competing teams and four learn-along teams participated in the 2022 CWC, which took place May 16–18 in conjunction with the American Clean Power Association’s (ACP’s) CLEANPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition in San Antonio. After presenting their work to a panel of wind energy experts, Kansas State University claimed first place.

The 2022 CWC focused on the challenges associated with fixed-bottom offshore wind projects. By participating in the 2022 competition, students developed the skills, experience, and industry connections that will help them break into the growing offshore wind energy industry and the wider renewable energy industry.

About the 2023 Competition
The CWC organizers have implemented a new application process and timeline intended to broaden the reach and impact of the CWC by making the competition more accessible.

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

Learn more about how to get involved in the CWC.

General Competition Timeline

Throughout the academic 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. This typically takes place at ACP’s CLEANPOWER Conference & Exhibition.

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

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

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

Each Late Spring: Phase 2 teams will be invited to participate in the CWC event in the spring, typically during American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER Conference & Exhibition.

Join the CWC mailing list to stay informed about competition updates, news, and events.