The Collegiate Wind Competition was a breeze for Penn State’s Wind Energy Club, which took home first place over 11 other universities at the national competition last week in New Orleans.
The team, comprised of around 20 members from varying majors including engineering and business, spent the school year developing a wind turbine and an accompanying business plan to test at the competition. The competition tasked students with coming up with solutions to a complex wind energy project while creating a wind-driven power system that can supply energy to an off-grid device.
“We had to build a business plan that utilized wind energy and how we were going to go about deploying this in the real world,” team leader Mitch Proulx said. The team had to design the turbine to meet the needs of its business plan.
Each group had to show how its particular turbine would make money, give a public pitch to judges for their design, and then put the prototype in a wind tunnel for testing. Joey Miscioscia, a member of the team’s electrical group, said Penn State’s model performed perfectly in testing and that none of the other universities’ turbines came close.
There were four scoring categories: deployment, business plan, technical plan, and testing. Penn State took individual titles for both the business category and in testing, as well as first overall after accumulating the highest total of points. The Wind Energy club earned 821 out of a possible 1,000, pulling easily ahead of second place UMass Lowell by 101 points.
This isn’t Penn State’s first gold in the competition either — two years ago, the last time the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) held the contest in Las Vegas, Penn State’s wind program took first and came into this year as the team to beat. AWEA and the U.S. Department of Energy link up to host the competition as part of AWEA’s annual conference and expo.