JMU team heading to Vegas for national wind power competition

by Eric Gorton


A group of James Madison University students from various majors will be heading to Las Vegas this week to compete against teams from nine other colleges in the inaugural Collegiate Wind Competition.

JMU submitted one of 10 winning proposals to get into the interdisciplinary competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. Teams will be judged on their process for designing and prototyping a small wind turbine, on how well their turbine performs in a wind tunnel and on an accompanying business plan for their turbine. The JMU team chose to focus on providing electricity to energy-impoverished communities in Kenya and their generator is designed to charge batteries in small electronic devices.

The fourth and final element of the competition will be a presentation on a market topic relevant to the geographic region of each participating university. The JMU team will make its case for how the coal and wind industries could combine forces to provide more environmentally sustainable electric power while also enhancing economic benefits for each sector.

ISAT Professor Jonathan Miles said nearly 30 students from various majors across campus have participated in the year-long effort to prepare for the contest, which is just what the DOE had in mind when it announced the competition last summer. Nearly a dozen faculty representing four colleges have supported the activities.

"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.

Schools in the competition received $25,000 from the DOE to cover some of the costs to compete. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Center for Entrepreneurship at JMU have provided additional support for students to travel to the competition, which is being held in conjunction with the American Wind Energy Association annual conference, Windpower 2014. Thirteen students majoring in engineering, finance, integrated science and technology, industrial design, management and political science, as well as JMU faculty and staff, will travel to Las Vegas to participate.

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

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May 5, 2014

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Published: Monday, May 5, 2014

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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