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 nation’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 fill 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 CWC now 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 apply 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

Thirteen competing teams and seven learn-along teams gathered at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Balch Fieldhouse in Boulder, Colorado, on May 15–19, 2023, for the 10th annual Collegiate Wind Competition. After testing a prototype wind turbine and presenting their work to panels of wind energy experts, Kansas State University claimed first place overall

CWC 2023 called on teams to develop solutions to the siting, development, and outreach challenges associated with fixed-bottom offshore wind energy projects. Over the course of the school year, participating teams designed and built prototype fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines, created offshore wind energy project development plans, collaborated with members of the wind energy industry and local media, and raised wind energy awareness in their communities.

About the 2024 Competition

DOE is now accepting applications to CWC 2024. Apply to CWC 2024 today!

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 Spring: CWC organizers begin accepting applications for the next year’s competition. Interested schools fill out an application to participate in CWC during the upcoming school year. 

Each Summer: CWC organizers select the teams who will participate in the competition during the first half of the upcoming school year. Project funds are available to the participating teams.  

Each Fall: Teams prepare their first set of submissions. 

Each Winter: CWC organizers narrow the teams to the finalist teams who will participate during the second half of the school year. 

Each Winter and Spring: Teams prepare their final submissions, conduct final turbine testing, and present their work to a panel of wind energy experts at the final CWC event.