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K-State Today

April 17, 2013



Up to the challenge: University team in inaugural National Collegiate Wind Competition

By Communications and Marketing

A team from Kansas State University's College of Engineering is among the 10 teams selected nationally to compete in the inaugural National Collegiate Wind Competition. The team's goal is to build a small wind turbine that can charge an electronic device such as a cellphone or an iPad.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado is the competition organizer, under direction of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The National Collegiate Wind Competition is a forum for undergraduate college students of multiple disciplines to investigate innovative wind energy concepts; gain experience designing, building and testing a wind turbine to perform according to a customized market data-derived business plan; and increase their knowledge of wind industry barriers.

Proposals to compete were due in mid-February and the selections were announced April 11. The teams each receive $25,000 in seed money for parts, travel to the competition and an expected mid-year design review.

"The initial 10 teams will get to not only build the small turbines, but also decide the rules," said Ruth Douglas Miller, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and a team adviser. "The competition does not just focus on hardware; a business plan and advertising materials must be developed, and teams will be paired in debate-format contests concerning their overall knowledge of the wind industry as well."

The competition will be in May 2014 at the American Wind Energy Association annual conference and exhibition, Windpower. The intent of this competition is to provide several opportunities for teams to excel, even without a strong engineering basis. It is an opportunity for collegiate institutions to showcase student ingenuity and the programs that the students represent. In addition to this national recognition, the turbine from the college or university with the best overall score will be placed on temporary display at the Department of Energy headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

Along with Miller, Kansas State University faculty members assisting the team include Youqi Wang, professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, and Greg Spaulding, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering who is the College of Engineering's competition team coordinator. Also assisting are Kim Fowler, doctoral candidate in electrical engineering, and Melissa Lynes, doctoral candidate in agricultural economics, both from Manhattan. Fowler will also help with team management, while Lynes will help with student recruiting.

There is no limit to the number of students on a team. According to Miller, the team will be formed this summer to prepare for the May 2014 competition. Interested students should contact Miller at 785-532-4596 or rdmiller@k-state.edu.