Cal Poly Wind Power
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California
Our U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition team developed out of a club started by a few mechanical engineering students who were passionate about wind energy and wanted to learn about the technology in a way that enhances the typical college curriculum. This small club grew to include many engineering students and others interested in project development, environmental management and protection, natural resources, construction management, architecture, and landscape architecture. Many of us were interested in renewable energy before learning about this competition. We are excited to incorporate the knowledge we have gained from our classes, push ourselves to grow through this experience, and learn more about careers in the wind industry.
Through this competition, we want to bring wind energy knowledge and industry connections to our university and create a space where students can get hands-on wind energy experience. In alignment with Cal Poly’s motto of “Learn by Doing,” our project combines club members and new students who are interested in doing their senior design projects for the competition.
Older team members are supporting newer members by sharing insights they have gathered through past technical and professional experiences, scheduling time just for learning, and reaching out to professors with expertise in the subject. We also plan to have early internal deadlines to allow time to address mistakes and be confident in our work before attending the competition. Finally, Cal Poly is supporting us by making manufacturing accessible with health restrictions in place.
Our team is unique in that it was founded, built, and is led primarily by students. As a new team, we have limited experience; however, we are willing to make the most of our resources, put in the extra time and effort, and partner with professors and industry to help build the wind energy presence at our university for future generations of students.
In addition, we are constantly working to recruit new members and diversify our club’s areas of expertise. Although small, our team is becoming more interdisciplinary, allowing us to analyze issues and solve problems from different perspectives. Because our curriculum is anchored in hands-on learning, many of our members are experienced and comfortable with the technical challenges they will confront in this competition. Regardless of the challenge, our team is grounded with a strong-minded, dedicated, determined, and persistent attitude.
Many of our current participants are mechanical engineering students, so the breadth of knowledge and skills outside the field of engineering is a challenge we need to address. Furthermore, like other schools, we face the challenges associated with virtual schooling, such as being in different locations and having limited access to campus resources.
As a rookie school, we hope to design a project and turbine we are proud of and learn a lot about wind energy along the way. This year has been and will continue to be full of unprecedented challenges, but we hope to navigate them with safety and grace while building the wind energy student resources and community at Cal Poly.
LinkedIn: California Polytechnic State University
This content was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the team.