The Seattle University Collegiate Wind Competition 2018 team.

From left to right: James Lamont, Jack Nelson, Alisha Piazza, Ty Huot, Tim Lopresto, AJ Pfund, Nicole Kahasha, Yahya Alyami, Barbara Medina, Veronika Zwicke, Kyle Seeberger, Aisha Natividad, Benjamin Viehoff, and Matt Shields


Air in Action


The Seattle University Collegiate Wind Competition team has branded itself as Air in Action. We are designing a wind energy project which aligns with our university’s mission of social justice to address existing limitations in the country’s energy infrastructure. We feel that wind is a renewable resource that has the potential to provide financial and/or moral value for the customer, which makes it ideal for Air in Action’s goals. 


Air in Action is developing a transportable three-bladed, upwind, horizontal-axis turbine to be used for offsetting diesel generator use in locations without grid connections, such as construction sites. Customers will be able to power a range of devices onsite without having to rely completely on expensive, inefficient, and polluting diesel fuel. We will establish a localized microgrid at these location which will connect our turbines to a range of onsite loads. We want our customer base to realize sufficient cost savings through a reduction in fuel purchases so that the initial cost of the wind system can be quickly paid off while also preventing the release of thousands of pounds of greenhouse gases.


The Air in Action team has been divided into Engineering, Business, and Siting teams, which comprise senior design projects and student volunteers. The Engineering team is split into Electrical and Mechanical teams which have mapped out their conceptual design process for both the market and test turbines, and are primarily focusing on developing the test turbine to meet the requirements of the Collegiate Wind Competition. Meanwhile, the Business team is developing a business plan and building a brand identity for Air in Action by conducting market research with local construction companies and launching social media to educate the community about wind energy. The Engineering and Business teams are working closely together in order to ensure that the designed market turbine can support the required energy production for a proposed customer base. The Siting team is familiarizing itself with commercial wind farm design tools and is scoping out reasonable sites for a 100-megawatt onshore farm in the vicinity of Seattle, which is a challenge due to our diverse terrain and proximity to Puget Sound.


One of Air in Action’s strengths is our diverse group of students. We have a total of 19 students majoring in various disciplines, ranging from 2nd to 4th year students. Our mixed personalities and team dynamics allow us to function in a fun, educational way, allowing us to learn about wind energy and about each other! We have access to a good set of resources at Seattle University, such as our 3-D printing lab, which we can use for rapid prototyping and iterative designing. Furthermore, we are receiving excellent support from our project mentors at DNV GL’s office in Seattle as well as the CARES Project Management Institute, who are providing consistent feedback on our design process.  


With a large group, one hurdle is coordinating meetings that accommodate everyone’s schedule. Another team hurdle is that we do not have a wind tunnel which is large enough to test our full size turbine, requiring us to build a rudimentary tunnel that does not have the capability to simulate all of the Collegiate Wind Competition tests. Lastly, this year will be Air in Action’s first year competing in the Collegiate Wind Competition. Compared to other teams, we may not have as much experience.


Students within our team are hoping to become better-prepared for the renewable energy industry by learning about the environmental, economic, and social benefits of sustainable energy. In addition, Air in Action hopes to gain valuable experiences from conducting real world research on how to construct a functional turbine. We also look forward to working with teams from other universities and learning from their designs, knowledge, and background.


We are working with Seattle University’s Center for Community Engagement, Kidwind and WRISE to arrange a “Wind Day” in the spring, when students from a local elementary school will travel to Seattle University to build and test small turbines with the help of Air in Action mentors. The students will also get the opportunity to see our turbine and learn more about the renewable energy industry from local professionals; we plan on advertising this event on social media and through Seattle University’s Marketing and Communications team.

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