The Pennsylvania State University Collegiate Wind Competition team stands on the grass in front of their university.

Front row, from left: Usgal Zandanbal, Brendon Hong, Michael Allan, Adam Proulx, Andrew Marzullo, Chloe Melnick, Suchitha Nama, Shaylen Amin, Milton Rahman, Vincent Donghia
Second row, from left: Roberto Abazoski, Zohair Ali Khan, Shawn Scroger, Dylan Snyder, Noah Sims, Josh Kaewvichien, Charlie Canby, Jason Ochs, Jared Franz, Sean Rich, Drew Barron, Jackson Deal, Tyler Wolf, Jason Cornelius
Back row, from left: Colben Holland, Kyle Gladden, Peyman Norouzi, Lane White, Michael Allan


Penn State Wind Energy Club


Wind is a very powerful natural resource that in many locations has the ability to generate electricity competitively to any other power generation source. It is solar-derived and thus renewable on a daily basis. As we make efforts to move to a more sustainable society, this shift in time scale—relying on sources we receive daily rather than over millions of years—becomes vitally important.


Our turbine consists of three main parts; the rotor/blades, the generator, and the electrical controller/load. All other structural components, including the base plate, tower, and nacelle, are made of aluminum and are designed to meet competition requirements. There is a radial ball bearing at the bottom of the nacelle to allow free yawing. The rotor is variable pitch and is connected to a servo. The final blades will either be 3-D printed or made of carbon fiber. The generator is a three-stage axial flux design made of 3-D printed rotors, copper coils, and an iron backing. The electrical system has two boxes. The control box contains an Arduino controller which controls the servo connected to the rotor to pitch the blades while the load box collects the power from the system.


Our game plan is to utilize students from varying majors with different areas of interest to complete the tasks required by the competition. For the 2018 competition, we have over 50 students involved in various parts of the competition team crossing 17 different majors. Our test turbine team is comprised mainly of aerospace and mechanical engineers with three subteams in rotor aerodynamics, generator design, and electrical systems. The siting team is composed specifically of energy engineers, while the market turbine design team has a variety of engineering majors. The business team is composed of a mixture of engineering and business majors. These teams work both independently of each other while also collaborating on information that is pertinent to the team as a whole. Each of these teams has a leader who is responsible for assigning tasks and meeting deadlines. We meet as a club weekly with our advisors as well.


We have a few team members continuing from the 2016 and 2017 competition teams. The leadership and experience from these team members provides a continuity and knowledge base in several key areas, including the team’s generator and rotor aerodynamic designs. 


When each subteam proposes a design improvement, it must be vetted through the full team to determine the overall impact of the design change. Optimization of one component can degrade performance in another such that the overall performance is not optimized. The main challenge is to find the middle ground where all components (aerodynamics, generator, and electrical) operate in harmony such that the overall performance of the turbine is optimized. This will be achieved by continuous communication between teams, solid analytical understanding of the system and testing the full system to diagnose any final unforeseen interactions.  



The Collegiate Wind Competition provides a real-world renewable energy opportunity for all those students involved. No matter the team, students can learn what professional engineers and executives who work in the wind energy industry are responsible for at their jobs. The test turbine team will learn what is required to design, build, and test a wind turbine to produce the most energy possible. The siting and market turbine teams are learning how to size, design, and arrange larger wind turbines and wind farms. The students on the business team will learn how to select a market, develop a product, and write a business plan for a new wind turbine application. All of the students involved will also learn valuable communication and teamwork skills that are very important in any industry.


The Penn State Wind Energy Club participated in STEM Rotor Day in October, demonstrating our test turbine running in the wind tunnel to community members with an associated educational activity.  We also participated in a presentation to stEMPOWERed Girls, an after-school program which visited the Aerospace Engineering department in early December. We will also be bringing 50 high school level environmental science students from Mifflin County High School into the wind tunnel on campus in January for another presentation/activity. The team is participating in the Penn State Sustainable Communities Collaborative in the spring, working with a Sustainability Marketing Course as a part of this program. The students in this class will help identify ways to enhance sustainable behaviors of our proposed company, end users, and society through product design and marketing strategies. Their resulting projects will be presented at the Campus & Community Sustainability Expo at the end of the semester. Our team will also actively support the PA KidWind Challenge coming up in March.  

Follow the Pennsylvania State University Collegiate Wind Competition team on Facebook.

This webpage was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the team.