The Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition is entering its second day, and things are really heating up. I stopped by to check in on some of the teams and see how their turbine designs were shaping up.
I ran into DOE's Jose Zayas, who manages the department's Wind and Water Power Program in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. He was excited to see the teams all here in Vegas, and stressed the competition's multidisciplinary approach:
The goal [of the competition] is really two-part. Number one is to identify the key universities that want to compete, but also to bring the engineering schools, the business schools, and economic schools together to try to really understand the multidisciplinary elements of wind, and of course build a wind turbine, which will be tested here, and at the same time also show a business plan and a market strategy plan.
The designs are subjected to rigorous testing guidelines, meaning these students are working around the clock to make sure their designs are running as well as they possibly can.
One of two DOE wind tunnels designed to test the small turbines, testing a VAWT turbine candidate
Working on a turbine’s internals during testing
Today is reserved for turbine performance testing, with DOE representatives running each turbine through the wringer in preparation for tomorrow’s pitches to the public.
Starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the teams will have to make a compelling business case for their designs, with awards in the evening to the most marketable product and team.
This is a full-spectrum competition, one that requires not only engineering acumen, but an eye for the economics of wind and how to compete in a market environment. I am excited to see who comes out on top tomorrow!
On a lighter note, there is also a LEGO village, where visitors are highly encouraged to give their own designs a try.