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First-Ever Collegiate Turbine Competition to Hit Annual Wind Industry Conference

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When the U.S. wind industry brings its signature conference to Las Vegas in May, companies and researchers will be accompanied by the nation's next generation of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced its first-ever  Collegiate Wind Competition, set for May 5 to 7, during three of the same days as the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition. The competition will feature teams from 10 universities who will design and construct light, portable wind turbines capable of powering small electronic devices.

James Madison University student Greg Miller demonstrates how the blades of a wind turbine work as part the Wind for Schools project. JMU is one of 10 universities that will compete in the first-ever U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. Photo credit: Virginia Center for Wind Energy

"Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing electricity sources in the U.S.," said Jose Zayas, director of DOE’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office. "The Collegiate Wind Competition is designed to expose students to the  multi-disciplinary nature of the wind industry and give them an opportunity to engage with industry leaders."

After constructing their turbines, the teams will make presentations to a panel with expertise on market drivers and wind energy deployment. The students will pitch business plans to industry leaders, and test their turbines in an on-site wind tunnel.

Each of the 10 universities participated in a larger competition to reach this stage. Here are the 10 finalists headed to Las Vegas:

  • Boise State University
  • California Maritime Academy
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • James Madison University (VA)
  • Kansas State University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Penn State University
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell 

In addition to receiving recognition for their school, the winning team will ship its turbine to Washington D.C., where it will be featured at the DOE’s headquarters.

"We’re excited to partner with DOE to host this exciting event," said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. "Bringing the Collegiate Wind Competition to WINDPOWER will provide unparalleled opportunities for students to interact with leaders in wind energy and give our industry a chance to meet and engage with some of the nation’s best and brightest young people."

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