A group photo of the University of Wisconsin Collegiate Wind Competition team




The team is interested in renewable energy and the capability of wind power to provide clean energy. The competition allows a motivated team to apply their knowledge to a real-world project and gain experience with a challenging project. The engineering teams desire to practice the design process and gain manufacturing skills building on coursework. Business and siting teams use project planning to expand entrepreneurial experience. WiscWind will benefit by working as an interdisciplinary team to grow the team's understanding of the renewable energy industry. 


After research and team deliberation, the WiscWind team chose a 3-blade horizontal axis wind turbine. The turbine will use carbon fiber for blade construction because of its lighter-weight properties. A mechanism utilizing centrifugal forces will passively control the pitch angle of the blade, both maximizing and limiting power output. Yaw control will similarly be passive to not draw from any generated power. Also featured will be a custom generator. WiscWind is optimizing the turbine to have a low cut in speed and high coefficient of power across a wide range of wind speeds. The team is also designing the turbine for high durability and use for future competition years.


WiscWind's engineering game plan included the research and design of components of the wind turbine during the first half of the year leading up to the competition. The electrical subteam built a generator dynamometer so they can perform real world testing outside of the wind tunnel. During the second half of the year, the team plans to build their prototype and perform full-scale testing to improve the design. The team hopes to test their prototype as early as possible to provide ample time to reconfigure the design if necessary.

The business goal is to prove that an off-grid wind turbine is being sought for certain projects and that it will cost-effectively solve a specific problem. The business subteam works with the electrical and mechanical teams to create a turbine that will provide a unique value to the end customer. The team will utilize researchers, industry professionals, and potential clients. Using customers to gain information is considered a necessity to make the business model relevant.


The team's strengths are our seniority and integration into coursework. The team is mostly comprised of senior-level students who have taken many classes relevant to the competition. This allows our members to draw from previous knowledge when working on the project. Most members of the team are also integrating the competition into coursework, such as a senior design course, capstone project, or technical elective. This gives members structured time throughout the week to work on the project without other coursework getting in the way.


WiscWind's engineering teams face hurdles in the redesign of components of the turbine. Both the electrical and mechanical subteams used knowledge gained from last year's turbine, but designed systems starting from scratch and using the design process. The design and construction requires a lot of person power and time. Another hurdle is finding the time to use the wind tunnel, which is normally used by a graduate-level courses and allows for limited testing time. WiscWind also uses the shared student shop which poses a hurdle of getting access to the tools and equipment we need. Both business and siting teams must overcome communication hurdles that stem from getting in contact with large companies.


For WiscWind, a crucial aspect of the competition is learning. Team members will learn how to communicate with a team composed of electrical, mechanical, siting, and business backgrounds. Diverse backgrounds create fresh perspectives which come together for one goal. The engineering teams hope to gain experience working on a technical design project using design and analysis software. The team will perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) on turbine components as well as other analyses. These skills will help to kick start an engineering career. Research on various markets is being conducted by the business subteam. The team also hopes to gain a knowledge of the renewable energy industry to use in a career in the field.


WiscWind is actively engaging the community through outreach events. The team holds several events with local youth groups to give a presentation on renewable and wind energy, encouraging better energy practices they can integrate in their own homes and communities. The events incorporate interactive elements such as simple craft turbine construction projects. The event for a Girl Scout troop received great feedback and was said to have helped in inspiring girls to enter STEM career paths. The WiscWind team is also participating in the KidWind Challenge to assist youth groups from the community in building and testing their own wind turbines in a small competition similar to the Collegiate Wind Competition.

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