A new competition is channeling undergraduate ingenuity into small-scale wind energy solutions. The inaugural U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition challenges 10 teams of undergraduate students to design and construct a lightweight, transportable wind turbine to power small electronic devices. The 2014 DOE Collegiate Wind Competition will be held May 5–7 in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center concurrently with the AWEA WINDPOWER® 2014 Conference & Exhibition. Prototype turbines with rotors of less than 17.7 inches (45 cm) in diameter will be put to the test in the competition's on-site wind tunnel.
The competition winner will be the university team that scores the most total points in three contests: Turbine design, construction, and wind tunnel testing; presentation of a business plan to develop and market the turbine; and demonstration of knowledge of current market issues affecting the wind industry. Spectators are encouraged to attend the event to see the teams' innovative concepts tested and presented and to cast their vote for the People's Choice Award. Although registration for the conference is not required, visitors need to register for badges to visit the competition located in the in the Shorelines A exhibit hall.
The teams, comprised of students from business, engineering, and social science backgrounds, will spend the school year designing a turbine that fits a particular market niche and has a defensible path to profitability.
Last month, the teams submitted their first deliverables to the competition organizers including a wind turbine design concept, a business plan outline, and proposed themes for their market issues presentation. Now the teams are hard at work building a prototype to test in the wind tunnel.
Sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Emily Jorgensen at the Wind Energy Foundation at 202.383.2543 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are also needed to help the event run smoothly. Visit the DOE Collegiate Wind Competition website for more information.