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University team designs, builds wind turbine for Collegiate Wind Competition

Thursday, April 17, 2014



MANHATTAN — A team from Kansas State University looks to blow away the field at the upcoming U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition.

The university's team is one of 10 teams from across the country that will take part in the event, which is part of the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference and exposition, AWEA Windpower 2014, May 5-8 in Las Vegas. The competition challenges the teams to design and construct a lightweight, transportable wind turbine that can power small electronic devices.

Selected about a year ago for the event, the Kansas State University team started in August 2013 to design, build and test its wind turbine. Along with technical requirements, the turbine has to perform according to a customized, market data-driven business plan that team members developed, and the group must be ready to address an industry issue it was assigned as part of the competition.

"The DOE Collegiate Wind Competition contests are designed to interest students from a variety of engineering and business programs, engaging them in a project — a complex task with no single solution, a test that inspires ingenuity — that provides real-world experience as they prepare to enter the workforce," said Ruth Douglas Miller, associate professor of electrical engineering and a faculty adviser to the team.

Miller said the mechanical engineering members of the team have built three prototype wind turbines and tested them in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wind tunnel near campus. They also are working on a brake system for the turbine.

The electrical engineering members of the team have been designing, testing and redesigning the control circuitry for the turbine.

The marketing members of the team have been revising the required marketing report that was first submitted to the competition in December 2013, and they are also preparing the presentation they will give to the marketing judges as well as a shorter version that will be presented to the general public.

Members of the industry issues group have been researching their assigned topic, drawing on some real-world examples to develop their response, Miller said.

Each team member has been working at least six hours a week on the project, with some putting in 20 or more hours a week, Miller said.

"Work started in August and will continue right up until we get on the plane on May 4," she said.

At the competition, the team will have three major tasks:

• A wind tunnel test of the wind turbine to determine cut-in wind speed, ability to hit the projected power curve versus wind speed, and demonstrate the turbine's braking at a max wind speed of 17 meters per second as well as on loss of load. The turbine also must be able to survive the 17 meters-per-second max wind speed.

• Present the business plan, which is a detailed plan for the turbine, including three years of financial expectations, research on the appropriate market, manufacturing costs and more. Members must also make a short sales pitch to the general public at the American Wind Energy Association conference, but the pitch will not be used in the judging.

• Deliver a 10-minute market issues presentation to demonstrate knowledge of the broader wind industry. Each team in the competition was assigned an issue of wind industry importance.

Along with Miller, faculty involved with the team include Greg Spaulding, instructor of mechanical engineering; Youqi Wang, professor of mechanical engineering; and Kim Fowler, doctoral student in electrical engineering who has assisted with the business team. The team also has received some business advice from Jason Schmitt, a Kansas State University alumnus who owns a semiconductor business.

Students on the Kansas State University team include:

Shae Pelkowski, senior in electrical engineering, Derby; Armando Marquez, junior in electrical engineering, Dodge City; Tanzila Ahmed, senior in electrical engineering, Garden City.

From Manhattan: Matthew Clark, senior in electrical engineering; Bret Gross, senior in mechanical engineering; Martin Mixon, senior in electrical engineering; Aaron Thomsen, senior in mechanical engineering; and Cody Yost, senior in mechanical engineering.

Lane Yoder, senior in mechanical engineering, McPherson; James Remley, senior in electrical engineering, Miltonvale; Joseph Kuhn, senior in mechanical engineering, Olathe; William Duren, senior in electrical engineering, Rose Hill; Jordan Robl, senior in mechanical engineering, Salina; Zachary Wassenberg, senior in electrical engineering, Seneca; Aaron Akin, sophomore in biological systems engineering, Shawnee; and Lawryn Edmonds, freshman in mechanical engineering, Valley Falls.

From out of state: Stuart Disberger, senior in mechanical engineering, Arvada, Colo.

Other teams in the competition include Boise State University; California Maritime Academy; Colorado School of Mines; James Madison University; Northern Arizona University; Pennsylvania State University; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Kansas; and University of Massachusetts, Lowell. More info is available at http://www4.eere.energy.gov/wind/windcompetition/home.


Ruth Douglas Miller


U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition

News tip

Derby, Dodge City, Garden City, Manhattan, McPherson, Miltonvale, Olathe, Rose Hill, Salina, Seneca, Shawnee and Valley Falls, Kan.; and Arvada, Colo.

Written by

Beth Bohn

At a glance

A Kansas State University team is one of 10 teams from across the country that will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Collegiate Wind Competition, May 5-8, in Las Vegas. For the event, teams must design and construct a lightweight, transportable wind turbine that can power small electronic devices.
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