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The CWC wind tunnel amidst a crowd.
Teams compete in Turbine performance Testing at The Collegiate Wind Competition 2016 in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

On May 8, twelve collegiate wind teams from across the country will be gathering in Chicago to begin an exciting three-day adventure: the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Collegiate Wind Competition. The participating teams will arrive at American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA’s) WINDPOWER conference ready to compete in the Business Contest, Siting Contest, Technical Design Contest, and Wind Tunnel Testing.

To prepare for this three-day event, students from diverse educational backgrounds have developed market-specific wind turbines, created a business plan, and researched siting for a theoretical 100-megawatt wind farm located within 100 miles of their school. A panel of wind industry leaders will judge each product, providing the students with real-world feedback and experience as they prepare to enter the wind industry workforce.

If you’re attending AWEA WINDPOWER, stop by the Collegiate Wind Competition team booths in the exhibit hall and wind tunnels in the ballroom to meet the students, watch them test their turbines, and see their public presentations. Not attending the conference? Follow along on the Facebook event for live updates from the competition!

Here’s what you can expect to see and do at this year’s Collegiate Wind Competition:

Meet Wind Industry’s Next Generation

At AWEA WINDPOWER, you can watch the students test their wind turbines in the Collegiate Wind Competition Ballroom from Tuesday, May 8 through Thursday, May 10. You can also listen to students present and defend their business plan at the Collegiate Wind Competition stage in the Exhibition Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, and from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 10.

Meet the passionate college students participating in the Collegiate Wind Competition at the Team Expo, which will be held on Thursday, May 10, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Engage with the students, talk to them about your own experiences in the wind industry, and learn about their creative wind energy solutions developed to address the unique challenges of this year’s competition. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite team during the event—the winners will receive the People’s Choice Award.

Can’t make any of these events? Visit the team booths in the AWEA WINDPOWER Exhibition Hall at any time!

…And the Generation Beyond

These collegiate teams won’t be the only students putting their wind smarts to the test at AWEA WINDPOWER. The National KidWind Challenge allows kids and teens to build and test their own wind turbine—and some of them will even get a trial in the Collegiate Wind Competition’s high-powered wind tunnel! (Watch them test from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 10.) You are also invited to see the winners at the KidWind Awards Ceremony at 12:30pm on Thursday, May 10, in the Ballroom.

KidWind and Collegiate Wind Competition students will also be teaming up for a unique and fun paired challenge curated by Mike Arquin, the Founder and Director of KidWind. Watch them test the vertical-axis wind turbines the teams created during the challenge from 10:15 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 10.

Hear from Our Guest Speakers

On Thursday, May 10 you will have the opportunity to hear from two distinguished speakers during the Team Expo.

  • Come see DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Dr. Tim Unruh, speak at the Team Expo at 11:10 a.m. Dr. Unruh directs the office’s renewable energy research, development, and demonstration activities for geothermal, solar, wind, and water power.
  • Tom Kiernan, the CEO of AWEA, will take the stage at 12 p.m. Before joining AWEA, Kiernan served as president of the National Parks Conservation Association for 15 years. He also helped lead the implementation of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation.

Watch a Team That’s Weathered It All

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, much of the island was without power. But the Collegiate Wind Competition team from Universidad del Turabo didn’t let a lack of power deter them: instead, it inspired them. “Our main strength came after the disastrous phenomenon that occurred in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria: unity,” the team writes. “Maria taught us as a team to maintain unity, no matter what.”

The team hopes their turbine design will be able to resist sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and gusts of up to 201 miles per hour. Additionally, it should be capable of self-starting and generating power without an external source—making the turbine useful to help broad populations after future disasters.

Shhhhh! It’s a Surprise!

This year’s competition features a big upgrade: a brand new wind tunnel that’s double the size of the tunnels featured in previous years’ competitions. Compared to the first-generation wind tunnel, the new design is also more modular and efficient. This design will allow for greater flexibility in designing and executing future competitions. Competition organizers are keeping details close to the vest until the tunnel is revealed at competition. Come see it in action!