Two students adjust a model wind turbine.

The Collegiate Wind Competition gives college students the opportunity to prepare for jobs in the wind energy industry through hands-on experience. The U.S. Department of Energy is accepting applications for the 2024 competition through June 15, 2023.

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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began accepting applications for the 2024 Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC), an annual competition that aims to prepare the future wind energy workforce through real-world technology, project development, and outreach experience. Interested teams should apply by 4:59 p.m. MT on June 15, 2023

The U.S. wind energy industry currently supports more than 120,000 jobs—and that number is expected to grow to meet the nation’s goal of a 100% carbon-free electric grid by 2035. The CWC, launched in 2014, gives multidisciplinary teams of college students an opportunity to build skills, share knowledge, and develop professional relationships that will help them find jobs in the wind and wider renewable energy industries.  

“Now in its tenth year, the Collegiate Wind Competition continues to engage student teams from across the country to design, build, and test wind technology prototypes. Many of these students have gone on to careers in clean energy and today are helping meet our nation’s clean energy goals,” said Wind Energy Technologies Office Acting Director, Jim Ahlgrimm. “I look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that the CWC 2024 teams bring to this long-standing DOE competition.”

The CWC aims to draw on the talents, experiences, and perspectives of a wide range of students. Since 2014, the competition has engaged a total of 19 minority-serving institutions, including Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, historically Black colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions. In addition, two community colleges have participated in the CWC in partnership with 4-year colleges and universities. To keep expanding the competition's participant reach, CWC organizers encourage teams from diverse institutions, including minority-serving institutions and community colleges, to apply. Teams are encouraged to include members from diverse backgrounds. Any number of academic institutions may partner with each other on one team.

Four Contests in Three Phases

Like the 2022 and 2023 competitions, CWC 2024 will continue to focus on projects related to offshore wind energy and invites teams to participate in four contests. The four contests include:

  • The Turbine Prototype Contest: Teams will design, build, and present a prototype offshore, fixed-bottom wind turbine 
  • The Project Development Contest: Teams will create a site plan and financial analysis for a hypothetical offshore wind farm 
  • The Connection Creation Contest: Teams will conduct outreach with the wind energy industry, local media outlets, and their communities
  • The Turbine Testing Contest: Teams will test their prototype wind turbine in an on-site wind tunnel with an ocean-simulation tank.

CWC 2024 will proceed in three phases, which will determine each team’s level of participation. The three phases include:

  • Phase 1: Application Selection
    • May 1–June 15, 2023
    • Interested teams apply to CWC 2024. In their application, teams should share their motivations for applying and capacity to perform well in the competition. 
    • CWC organizers will select up to 35 applicants to participate in Phase 2.
    • Selected teams will be eligible for up to $2,000 per team from a total cash prize pool of up to $70,000.  
  • Phase 2: Competitor Selection
    • June 16, 2023–December 2023
    • Teams complete deliverables for the Turbine Prototype, Project Development, and Connection Creation contests. 
    • CWC organizers will evaluate these deliverables to select 12 finalist teams who will advance to Phase 3.
    • Finalist teams will be eligible for up to $15,000 per team from a total cash prize pool of up to $180,000. 
  • Phase 3: Grand Prize Awards
    • January 2024–May 2024  
    • Teams complete deliverables for all four contests. 
    • Phase 3 will culminate in the spring of 2024 at the CWC 2024 final event, where the 12 finalist teams will test their prototype wind turbines and present their work to a panel of wind energy industry experts. 
    • Teams will compete for first-, second-, and third-place awards, as well as awards for each of the four contests. 
    • The winning teams will be awarded a portion of an up-to-$30,000 grand prize pool. 

2023 Teams Gear Up for Final Event

As DOE begins accepting applications for 2024 CWC, 13 teams from around the United States are putting the finishing touches on their turbine designs and wind energy site plans in preparation for the 2023 CWC final event, which will take place May 15–19, 2023, in Boulder, Colorado. Seven learn-along teams will also attend to network with members of the wind energy industry and other participating teams. Want to meet the next generation of wind energy professionals in person? Register to attend!

The CWC is managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office

Sign up for email alerts and never miss a CWC update. To find more opportunities for students to gain renewable energy experience while still in school, visit DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Student Competitions and Prizes page. For updates on WETO activities, subscribe to the Catch the Wind newsletter.