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 economy by 2050 will require continued growth in the U.S. wind industry—and qualified workers to manufacture, construct, operate, and maintain wind turbines as well as to play support roles in the growing 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. The CWC organizing team typically selects 10–13 teams to compete each year. However, in the future, the competition organizers may change these assumptions to broaden the competition’s reach.

Starting in 2021, the CWC organizing team also began inviting learn-along teams to participate. This feature allows students to participate in the competition experience and establish a deeper understanding of the wind industry and the competition.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the 11 teams selected to participate in the 2022 competition, which is scheduled to take place May 16–19, 2022, at the CLEANPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas. Five learn-along teams will participate in the 2022 competition as well.

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 in the spring, where teams conduct final turbine testing and present their work to a panel of wind energy experts, which often takes place over three days at the American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER Conference.

Historically, the CWC has released a request for proposals in the fall inviting interested teams to apply to the competition, and has announced the selected teams by March. This process is changing for the 2023 competition. Instead, the competition organizers will implement a new registration-based application process with a new timeline:

March 2022: CWC organizers will release the new application process and deadline to apply. Interested teams will fill out an application to compete in the 2022–2023 academic year. The application deadline will be 2 to 2.5 months after the application release.

By June 2022: CWC organizers will select applicants based on a list of key requirements and invite qualifying teams to participate in the competition during the fall 2022 semester of the 2022–2023 academic year. Project funds will be available to the participating teams in the 2022–2023 academic year.

December 2022: Using a performance-based selection process, CWC organizers will narrow the field of teams to those who will participate during the spring 2023 semester. Selected teams will be invited to participate in the 2023 Collegiate Wind Competition at the American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in May 2023.

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