Use Your Holiday Break to Prepare for the Energy Department’s Collegiate Wind Competition

November 13, 2019

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The deadline to apply for the 2021 U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition is fast approaching! The upcoming Thanksgiving break is the perfect time to work to put your team's application over the top to ensure that you will be accepted to compete in the 2021 event.

What can you do to prepare between the turkey and pumpkin pie? Plenty!

If you are still polishing up your application, be sure to follow the guidelines on putting together a strong application. Remember: the deadline is Monday, December 9, 2019, and submitting the required materials is still the number one to-do list item for teams who want to compete in 2021. Here are a few other things you can do to strengthen your application.

Recruit Team Members and Faculty Advisors

Does your team have the diversity of experience and ideas you will need to create a winning entry? If not, invite friends and classmates from different fields to learn about the competition and your team's plans. If you haven't already secured a faculty advisor, now is the time to make your pitch. Present your team's plans, your reason for entering, how it will benefit your school or academic program, and how you would like that faculty advisor to help. Then include your new team members' and faculty advisor's strengths, contributions, and interests in your team's application.

A group of students smile at a model wind turbine at the 2019 Collegiate Wind Competition.
Be sure to capture your team's enthusiasm and personality in your CWC application. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL 2019

Revisit Your "Why"

Your interest in the Collegiate Wind Competition is likely fueled by passion. Is it the science of wind energy? The growing career opportunities? The prospect of someday climbing to the top of a wind turbine? Perhaps your interest is environmental, economic, or driven by an overall interest in renewable energy.

We want to know what has brought you and your team to the competition. Use your application to demonstrate your enthusiasm for wind energy. You will be sure to stand out to the selection committee, and your work during the competition could help you stand out to future sponsors or employers.

Volunteer

The holiday season is a natural time to think about giving back, and as a student in a growing field, you have a lot to give! Explore how your team can teach others about wind energy. KidWind is a great opportunity to connect with younger students and inspire the next generation of collegiate competitors and wind professionals. Learn how other teams have worked with KidWind.

If there are no KidWind events near you, approach local libraries, museums, or schools to discuss how your team can connect with the community and share what you are learning. The Collegiate Wind Competition organizers can also help you set up an event in your area.

Seek Out Funding, Partners, and Sponsors

Designing and building a model wind turbine is just one aspect of the competition. Securing funding and partners is also important. The right partners—whether they are industry professionals, community members, investors, or other universities—can strengthen your team by providing not only funding, but perspectives on your project that you may not have considered. Wind turbine design and siting are complex and involve many different players. Reach out to some of them and invite them to help your team. Many will be thrilled to do so.

Students wearing shirts from different universities look at posters at the 2019 Collegiate Wind Competition.
Learning from other teams and future wind energy colleagues is one of the most valuable parts of CWC, and you can take advantage of it even if you are not competing. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL 2019

Didn't Make the Cut? Here's What You Can Do

If your team is not selected for the competition, you can still use the holiday breaks and the year ahead to prepare for the next competition. You can also take advantage of Collegiate Wind Competition resources for your own career planning. Here are some things you can do:

Partner with a Competing Team 

Approach one of the competing teams—either a team that is competing in 2020 or one that is selected next spring for the 2021 competition—and ask if they will allow you to learn more about their experience. You will learn how to improve your team's application for next time and get firsthand competition experience—great for the next go-round, for your education, and for your career.

If you plan to partner with a competing team, mention it in your application! The selection committee will be pleased to know about your commitment and ongoing interest.

Connect with Organizers and Complete the Competition Tasks

Even if you are not competing, the competition organizers are committed to developing the next generation of wind energy professionals, and that includes you. Reach out to competition organizers for information on how to complete the competition tasks as a learning exercise.

School Breaks Are Opportunities

The time off from class is a great time to turn your focus to CWC. Whether you are polishing your application to submit after Thanksgiving break or looking ahead to improve your chances for next year, take advantage of the break to get your creative juices flowing, make connections, and take your application to the next level. We can't wait to hear about your ideas.