Wind turbine competition offers students chance to compete, network
Friday, June 6, 2014
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University's Ruth Douglas Miller says the U.S. Department of Energy's Collegiate Wind Competition proved to be a valuable experience for the university's team.
The competition, in Las Vegas in early May, challenged 10 universities across the country to design and construct a lightweight, transportable wind turbine that can power small electronic devices such as a cellphone, tablet or laptop computer. The university teams were made up of engineering students — mechanical, biological systems and electrical on the Wildcat team — as well as business students to help with the competition's required marketing plan.
"This exciting, educational and challenging experience provided a new interactive way for college students to develop fresh ideas," said Miller, associate professor of electrical engineering and the adviser to the Kansas State University team.
While the university's team didn't win the competition, Miller said the team did stand out with its marketing plan. Each team had to develop an efficient marketing plan to sell to different companies. Kansas State's team decided to focus on power generation during coastal disasters and emergencies, as well as providing lighting on boardwalks and piers without using grid power.
Constructing a product that can power electronic devices is a difficult task to accomplish. Miller said the Kansas State University team came up with a vertical axis design.
"Instead of spinning like a fan, it spins like an egg beater. Though this design was not able to capture much power, it was fun to look at," she said.
Competing wasn't the only experience the students will remember about the competition, Miller said.
"Being a part of the wind turbine competition also gave the students networking and job opportunities," she said. Several companies involved in energy efficiency and renewable energy were at the competition to look for students interested in jobs in the field.
Students are already looking forward to the next competition.
"Though the Collegiate Wind Competition happens every two years, the students are interested in doing another contest in the off year," Miller said.
More information about the Kansas State University team and its turbine is available at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/apr14/turbinecomp41714.html.