In the past decade, U.S. wind power has tripled, becoming the largest source of renewable generation in the country. As the U.S. power generation mix incorporates more wind energy, the country will need qualified workers to fill jobs in all roles, including turbine design, project development, construction, operations, finance, and public relations.

Since 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) has helped meet this need by providing college students with hands-on wind energy technology, project development, and outreach experience. On behalf of the DOE Wind Energy Technologies Office, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) facilitates the CWC, which challenges multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate students to merge academic coursework with hands-on learning, connect with industry leaders, and prepare for jobs in wind energy and other sustainable energy industries.

A young woman in a hard hat and safety glasses adjusts a small wind turbine in a laboratory setting.

Students who participate in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition get the opportunity to design, build, and test a prototype wind turbine like the one pictured here. This real-world, hands-on experience helps prepare participants for jobs in the fast-growing wind energy industry. The competition will switch to a new, registration-based application for the 2023 event. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL

Werner Slocum, NREL

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; and conduct outreach to the wind industry, their local communities, and local media outlets. The competition culminates in the spring, when teams conduct final turbine testing and present their work to a panel of wind energy experts. This often takes place 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 participate in the competition. Selected teams were typically announced by the following March. For the upcoming 2023 CWC competition, this process will change. As explained below, competition organizers will implement a new application process with a new timeline. This change is intended to make the competition more accessible to schools that have not participated in the past and, in turn, broaden the reach and impact of the CWC.

“To meet the energy challenges of the 21st century, we need to engage the diverse talents of the future wind energy workforce,” said Elise DeGeorge, competition manager at NREL. “We hope this new application process will allow a broader range of students to build the skills and professional connections that will help them break into the wind industry.”

The new application process will adhere to the following 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.

More details will be provided along with the release of the new application process in March 2022.

Learn more about the CWC by checking out the competition website.