5 Reasons College Students Should Join the Collegiate Wind Competition

It’s an exciting time to be part of the wind energy industry. Wind is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources in the U.S., and it has the potential to support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the near future. Since 2014, passionate college students from across the country have learned the ins and outs of the wind industry by participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition, which challenges undergraduates to design and build a wind turbine and develop a business plan to market their project. This enriching, year-long experience has resulted in nearly 30 teams taking a wind turbine project from concept to prototype.

This past spring, Penn State took top honors in the Collegiate Wind Competition 2016. Now, we’re gearing up to crown a new champion for Collegiate Wind Competition 2018. Students who are interested in learning more about wind energy are encouraged to form a team and submit their proposal.

Here are five reasons why joining the Collegiate Wind Competition is a great idea:

1. Collaborate across fields of study

The CWC is not limited to students in engineering programs. In fact, the organizers of the competition encourage an interdisciplinary approach. For example, the expertise of business students allows the teams to dive into market research and business plans to solve their challenge. Other disciplines can provide perspectives that are outside the engineering sector, but necessary for success. 

2. Receive direct feedback from industry experts

The three aspects of the competition—wind tunnel testing, design and engineering presentation, and the business plan pitch—are all judged by leaders in the wind industry. Students will receive direct feedback on their competition project from the judges.

3. Get hands-on, real world experience

Time and again, students who participated in past competitions talk about their ability to get firsthand experience designing, building, and testing a wind turbine. Participating in the Collegiate Wind Competition gives you the opportunity to take your theoretical education and apply it to a tangible challenge.

“I was able to work on all three aspects of the competition: the test turbine, the market turbine, and the business plan. I learned so much and can talk to people in the industry now, which I never imagined I would be able to do at the beginning of the year.” —Student who competed in the Collegiate Wind Competition 2016

4. Work with a diverse team of your peers

In addition to introducing a new generation to career opportunities in wind energy, one of the Collegiate Wind Competition’s top goals is to increase diversity in the workforce, and teams that show inclusive representation from their student communities are encouraged to apply. This gives teammates the opportunity to work with people from a variety of backgrounds. 

5. Network with members of the wind industry

Since the Collegiate Wind Competition is held at the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER conference, students participating in the competition have the opportunity to network the showroom floor and meet some of the big names in wind energy—including GE, Siemens, Gamesa, and more.

Learn more about the Collegiate Wind Competition by reviewing the Request for Proposals here. Applications are due January 4, 2017.

This article was originally published by the U.S. Department of Energy in the public domain.

Images credit: energy.gov

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Amber Passmore is Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy's Collegiate Wind Competition.

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