James Madison University CWC Team
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Students at James Madison University (JMU) chose to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2020 Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) so they could not only gain knowledge and understanding of U.S. wind energy, but also engage with a highly diverse group of students. Team members represent nine different academic majors, ranging from the sciences to business and even the arts—and the CWC often provides participants their first opportunity to learn meaningful skills outside their majors, which could prove relevant to future careers.
The team will present two primary deliverables in Denver this summer: the wind turbine for the Turbine Prototype Contest and the siting/business report for the Project Development Contest.
The team’s structure is similar to previous JMU CWC teams, with lessons applied from experiences competing in 2018 and 2019.
The team is structured into two “deliverable” subteams that meet regularly outside of weekly all-team meetings:
- The engineering team is designing the mechanical and electrical layout of the turbine to be tested at the 2020 Collegiate Wind Competition.
- The siting and business team is responsible for developing a report documenting the team’s analysis of multiple locations in Eastern Colorado that may be suitable to build a 100-MW wind farm. The team will develop a comprehensive list of potential sites and a financially sound business plan.
In addition to the two deliverable-driven subteams, each team member participates on at least one of five nondeliverable subteams that address the myriad tasks that the team must complete to be successful. These teams address (1) Rules, Regulations, & Safety, (2) Logistics, (3) Finance, (4) Community Outreach & Engagement, and (5) Marketing & Communications. Each subteam nominated a Project Management Officer (PMO), and these five leaders make up the PMO Leadership Team, which presents weekly progress reports for each subteam and opens the floor for a town hall-style meeting that encourages full team participation.
The team has the benefit of lessons learned from previous CWC participation, allowing participants to focus on what worked well and to address what did not. For example, the team’s unique and informed approach to the business plan in 2018 was rewarded in Chicago, so the 2020 team plans a similar approach of STEM majors working alongside business students to create the best products possible.
In addition, the team’s academic diversity enables them to achieve goals and produce work that is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Though the team’s diversity drives innovation, the logistical issues of bringing together 22 students from across the campus to focus on a common goal or issue can pose challenges. Additionally, each team member carries a full course load outside of the competition and must manage a unique set of team responsibilities that require thoughtful time management. Coordination has been challenging at times, but the benefits of an inclusive approach far outweigh its challenges.
Also, the use of workspaces and tools that are available to JMU engineering students are off limits to other students—a restriction that has proven challenging to team work completion.
The team is participating in CWC to learn, compete, and win. While attending the competition, the team will strive to not only improve and advance wind technology and siting methods but will also call attention to the human aspects and benefits of clean energy development.
In addition, the team plans to spur wind energy-related outreach and engagement within James Madison University, the surrounding city of Harrisonburg, and the greater Shenandoah Valley communities. To that end, team members will work diligently throughout the year to engage with the local community by volunteering for renewable energy opportunities and will support one another throughout this process.
This content was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the team.