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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition kicks off May 8, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Twelve talented teams from across the United States will put their wind turbines to the test at the competition, which will be held at the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER conference. These teams have weathered storms (literally), taught Girl Scouts about wind power, and made it work with smaller workspaces.

Read more about the 12 teams participating in the conference—and come see their projects at WINDPOWER from May 8–10.

University of Wisconsin — WiscWind

In an effort to share their passion for wind, WiscWind engaged with Girl Scouts during an outreach event that included a simple craft turbine construction project. After the event, many of the Scouts said they were excited to launch STEM careers.

Bringing experience from past competitions, the WiscWind team is designing a three-bladed, horizontal-axis wind turbine with lightweight carbon fiber blades and a custom generator for off-grid applications. The electrical subteam built a generator dynamometer so they can conduct real-world testing outside of the wind tunnel.

Kansas State University — Wildcat Wind Power

The Wildcat Wind Power team is no stranger to obstacles. The team lost its research and testing lab and had to shrink their workspace into a room one-eighth the size of the original. Undeterred, they built a homemade wind tunnel and outfitted their turbine with casters so they could roll it in and out of storage. The diverse team includes students in electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering, as well as business, entrepreneurship, and computer science majors, all working and learning from each other.

Seattle University — Air in Action

First-time competitors Air in Action believe that wind is a win-win, and they intend to build a turbine that’s cost-effective and that reduces carbon emissions. Their design is a transportable, three-bladed, upwind, horizontal-axis turbine to be used for offsetting diesel generator use. The team believes their turbine is the perfect solution for locations without grid connections, such as construction sites.

“We are designing a wind energy project which aligns with our university’s mission of social justice to address existing limitations in the country’s energy infrastructure,” says the team. 

Northern Arizona University — Team NAU

For Team NAU, the most important skill gained from the competition isn’t technical. It’s teamwork. The 22 undergraduates are consulting with over a dozen faculty members from different disciplines and dozens of companies in their market research and product development. By the end of the competition, each student will be an expert in a specific subcomponent of their project, a three-bladed, horizontal-axis wind turbine.

The team’s turbine features active pitching and yawing systems for use with an application that involves energy storage and potential islanding.

Universidad del Turabo — Juracán Energy (JE)

For returning team Juracán Energy, the Collegiate Wind Competition is more than a contest. It’s a mission. Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, the team is determined to design and build a turbine that can resist a sustained wind of 155 miles per hour and gusts up to 201 miles per hour. In case of emergencies, it will be capable of self-starting and producing generative power without an external power source. JE is also engaging the communities by providing wind turbines and filtration pumps to provide energy and water to recovering communities. 

“Maria taught us as a team to maintain unity no matter what, and we realized that we do more as a team than as individuals,” says the team. “The Collegiate Wind Competition has provided us the opportunity to make something that can help our island recover and prepare for any other similar event.”

James Madison University — Madison Renewables

The team from James Madison University impressed the judges in 2014. Now they’re back, designing a midsized turbine hardened to tolerate harsh winter climates. Madison Renewables is spreading the word about their project, a three-bladed horizontal-axis turbine with a novel transmission technology that reduces cost and increases reliability. A subteam is dedicated to engaging the Rockingham County community about the project, attending town hall meetings and sending updates via social media.

Learn more about the other six Collegiate Wind Competition teams.