Annual competition helps prepare college students for jobs in wind and renewable energy

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began accepting applications for the 2025 Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC), an annual competition that helps college students prepare for jobs in wind and renewable energy. Interested teams should study the Phase 1 Rules document and submit their applications by 4:59 p.m. MT on June 13, 2024

As wind energy continues to make up a larger and larger portion of the nation's electricity mix, the U.S. wind energy industry will need a well-trained workforce to fill many different roles. The CWC helps introduce undergraduate students at U.S.-based institutions to the flourishing field of wind energy, preparing them for careers through real-world experience with wind energy technologies, project development, and outreach. 

The competition thrives on diverse perspectives, and as such, students are highly encouraged to form multidisciplinary teams that include members from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. In this way, the CWC can provide real-world experience not only for engineering-minded students but also for potential researchers, scientists, engineers, educators, project managers, and business and sales forces—all of which are needed in the industry.   

Competition organizers also place strong emphasis on diversity in the types of schools selected to compete. Since 2014, the competition has engaged 20 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.  

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Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity in the United States, which means this industry needs all kinds of creative, skilled workers. The U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition gives college students the opportunity to prepare for jobs in the wind and renewable energy workforce through real-world experiences with wind energy technology, project development, finance, communications, and outreach.
Video by Joe DelNero, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

About the 2025 Competition  

Teams of students participating in CWC 2025 will compete in four contests, with progress in these contests measured across three phases. 

Teams will earn points toward their CWC totals in the following contests:  

  • The Turbine Prototype Contest, in which teams will design, build, and present a unique, wind-driven power system. 
  • The Project Development Contest, in which teams will research wind resource data, transmission infrastructure, and environmental factors to create a site plan and financial analysis for a hypothetical wind farm. 
  • The Connection Creation Contest, in which teams will partner with wind industry professionals, raise awareness of wind energy in their local community, and work with local media to promote the team's accomplishments. 
  • The Turbine Testing Contest, in which teams will test their prototype wind turbine in an on-site wind tunnel at the final event.  

The competition is divided into three phases. Competitors will have a chance to win prizes at each phase from a total prize pool of $280,000. The phases are: 

Phase 1: Preliminary Team Selection 

March 21–June 13, 2024  

  • Interested teams apply to CWC 2025. 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 Phase 1 cash prize pool of up to $70,000.    

Phase 2: Competitor Selection  

June 2024–December 2024   

  • Teams will submit a preliminary design and report for a prototype wind turbine, a preliminary site design for a hypothetical wind farm, and a strategy for industry and community outreach.  
  • CWC organizers will evaluate these deliverables to select up to 12 finalist teams who will advance to Phase 3.  
  • Finalist teams will be eligible for up to $15,000 per team from a Phase 2 cash prize pool of up to $180,000.   

Phase 3: Grand Prize Awards  

January 2025–May 2025    

  • Teams will submit completed wind turbine prototype designs and wind farm site designs, build and test their turbine prototypes, and continue to build connections with the wind energy industry and their communities. Submissions will be evaluated at the final event in spring 2025. 
  • At the CWC 2025 final event, up to 12 finalist teams will get the chance to present to industry experts, test the model turbines in competition wind tunnels, and network with industry professionals.   
  • 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 a $30,000 grand prize pool.   

2024 Competition Nears the Finish Line 

As the CWC 2025 application period opens, the finalist teams from this year's competition are making final adjustments to their projects ahead of the CWC 2024 final event, which will be held in conjunction with the American Clean Power Association's CLEANPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Minneapolis in May 2024. The CWC final event is open to CLEANPOWER attendees and is a great place to meet the next cohort of wind energy professionals.   

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 Competitions and Prizes page. For updates on activities at DOE's Wind Energy Technologies Office, subscribe to the Catch the Wind newsletter.