JMU one of 10 colleges chosen for national wind turbine competition

by Eric Gorton


Global Wind Day is Saturday

JMU's interdisciplinary culture should bode well for a team of students who will compete against students from nine other colleges around the country in the first U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition in spring 2014.

"We’ll aim to leave Las Vegas with a first place ribbon, but the experience will be invaluable no matter where we place," said Dr. Jon Miles, professor of integrated science and technology and director of the Virginia Center for Wind Energy at JMU. "I think we are probably at an advantage compared to some of the other universities because of the culture here of encouraging interdisciplinary activities."

Miles submitted one of 10 winning proposals to get into the three-pronged competition, which not only requires students to design and build a wind turbine that can power a small device, but also requires them to create a business plan for their turbine and to debate wind energy issues. In addition to gaining entry into the competition, each college received $25,000 from DOE to initiate their projects. The money will be used for materials to build a turbine, for travel to the competition and other related expenses. The JMU team hopes to raise an additional $75,000.

"The 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," the DOE stated in announcing the contest.

Miles has already assembled an interdisciplinary team of faculty to assist with the competition, including Dr. Carol Hamilton from the College of Business and Paul Mabrey, a lecturer in communication studies who is assistant director of debate. Miles also is planning a seminar course, "Issues in Wind Energy" (ISAT 480), that will introduce students to a broad range of wind power issues—such as permitting, remote monitoring of systems and turbine maintenance—and meet a requirement to integrate the competition into coursework and senior design projects. The Issues in Wind Energy course will help prepare the students who will participate in the debate part of the contest.

ISAT students will be able to earn credits working on the project through their capstone design courses and engineering students will be able to get credit in their capstone or independent study courses, Miles said.

Students in Hamilton's venture creation class (COB 472) will work on a market study, market analysis and business planning exercises directly related to the competition, Miles said, and will play a role in deciding what the JMU turbine will power. Business students will be encouraged to take his ISAT 480 course and a few ISAT and engineering students may also take the business course.

The turbine from the team with the best overall score will be displayed at the DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The other schools in the competition are:

• Boise State University

• California Maritime Academy

• Colorado School of Mines

• Kansas State University

• Northern Arizona University

• Pennsylvania State University

• University of Alaska Fairbanks

• University of Kansas

• University of Massachusetts Lowell

Published June 12, 2013

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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