Hopkins Student Wind Energy Team
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Why this Competition?
The Hopkins Student Wind Energy Team (HSWET) was created to provide students the opportunity to gain experience in renewable energy through the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC). The competition provides a unique opportunity to develop the skills central to renewable energy development, such as the engineering, finance, and siting of a wind project. This will be an incredible chance to apply the skills learned in Johns Hopkins University courses to a specific energy project. Additionally, HSWET hopes to create a network of students and alumni who are interested in renewable energy, forge connections with professionals in the industry, and receive mentorship for the project and members’ personal career paths. Each member cares deeply about the climate, energy, and the future of the planet, and wants to start making a difference.
Because this is Johns Hopkins University’s first year competing in the CWC, the team used the fall semester to learn as much as possible and start the project and is using the spring semester to implement everything learned to complete the project. The learning process involved reading articles, NREL/DOE documents, and previous CWC competitors’ project reports to get a feel for what would be needed/expected. Then, HSWET developed a network of mentors willing to answer any questions and refine technical aspects of the project. HSWET split into a Turbine Building Team consisting of generator, electronics/controls, aerodynamics, and structures/CAD subteams, and a project development team consisting of a finance and siting subteam.
The turbine building team produced a preliminary prototype and model, testing various inputs and designs. The prototype will be developed through computer-aided design, coding, and in-person workshopping/experimentation. The turbine team also acquired sponsorship from Ansys to do complex engineering modeling and analysis for the prototype. Meanwhile, HSWET’s executive board created timelines and action items to have project elements ready on schedule.
The Project Development Team, consisting of the finance and siting subteam, are using System Advisor Model and WindProspector software, respectively. The development plan will include researching federal and local policy surrounding leasing; construction; the local environment and ecology; industry standards for project financing; the national energy market and prices; and local economic, social, and environmental impacts. The data will be utilized to produce the least disruptive and lowest cost but most profitable and feasible wind farm possible.
HSWET members aspire to grow and improve their teamwork and leadership skills, quantitative and qualitative research experience, and hands-on project development while building a renewable energy community at Johns Hopkins University.
HSWET’s largest strengths stem from the diversity of backgrounds and experience its members hold, which help remedy the lack of prior CWC experience. HSWET has freshmen through seniors studying mechanical and electrical engineering, chemical and biological engineering, applied math and statistics, computer science, economics, environmental studies, neuroscience, and international studies. Every student is passionate about clean energy. Additionally, the team formed a Johns Hopkins University Energy Alumni Network whose members are invested in the team’s growth and success.
The most significant hurdles have come from a lack of previous CWC experience. Starting a team during the coronavirus pandemic has also been challenging. It has been difficult to advertise the team without students on campus or being able to meet new students through an in-person involvement fair, hold in-person interest meetings, or meet to build the turbine. Moreover, there are no HSWET alumni to model the team’s work or assist in planning. The team had to learn how to best schedule tasks and divide the work among members, including what to assign and when.
Ultimately, HSWET hopes to achieve a successful performance at the CWC. This entails having a finalized product that we are well-prepared to present, a sustainable network that we can continue to tap for advice and connections, and a model for future years of HSWET to follow (both in prototype/project development plans and scheduling/teamwork). Thus, our long-term plan is to lay the groundwork for a team that will last far beyond its initial founders.
This content was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the team.