Penn State takes first in Collegiate Wind Competition


By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Wind Energy Club won big at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition, taking home first overall in the competition and first in the project development contest. It is their fifth overall win, the most of any team that has participated in the competition.

Penn State competed against 13 teams from universities around the country, all of whom were invited by the DOE to participate.

Each team was charged with designing and managing several real-world projects related to wind energy production, which they developed over the course of the academic year. This year’s competition theme was adaptability, and the students were tasked with researching, designing and building a wind turbine “for deployment in highly uncertain times, with a large degree of unknown risks and delays,” according to the DOE’s specifications.

The first part of the competition challenged the 22 students comprising Penn State’s team in the area of project development. They designed a working wind farm, which included budgets, a land layout and proper resource utilization. In the second part of the competition, the students designed, built and tested a to-scale test wind turbine. Additionally, a new element this year, known as the connection creation contest, tasked students with forging stronger connections between Penn State, the wind industry and the local community via outreach efforts, interviews and presentations.

The team presented their designs via zoom from June 3 through June 10 at the American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER Conference & Exhibition 2021, which was held virtually this year. The competition team traditionally travels to the conference location to present their designs.

Last year, Penn State placed fourth overall and second in the project development category. In previous years, the team took first place in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019, and finished second in 2018.

“Our student club members did an incredible job this year,” said Mark Miller, Penn State assistant professor of aerospace engineering and co-adviser of the club. “The fact that new and innovative ideas and designs were successfully pursued, despite most of the students never meeting in person, is a testament to their passion and work ethic. We are excited to have taken first place, especially given the strong competition this year, and are thankful to the DOE for putting on such a great event. I can’t wait to see what our students come up with next year.”

Susan Stewart, associate teaching professor of aerospace engineering, is co-adviser of the club.

The competition team includes undergraduate students Mohammed Aal Abdulla, aerospace engineering major; Josh Bannon, aerospace engineering major; Jackie Cheng, electrical engineering major; Eric Folmar, mechanical engineering major; Josh Forrest, aerospace engineering major and information sciences and technology minor; Allison Karp, aerospace engineering major; James Leandri, computer science major; Sara Maholland, geography major; Shreya Manoj, energy engineering major; Rosellen Martin, energy engineering major; Ian McCoy, energy engineering major; Akhilesh Mulgund, aerospace engineering major; Jeremy O’Connor, aerospace engineering major; Alejandro Pardinas, energy engineering major; Satyam Patel, electrical engineering major; Dayanch Saparov, energy engineering major; Eric Sarbacker, chemical engineering major; Brianna Shero, energy engineering major and environmental engineering minor; Yuixin “Zoe” Shu, aerospace engineering major; Joseph Snider, aerospace engineering major; Avery Taylor, energy engineering major; and Colin Welch, aerospace engineering major.

The full list of winners is below:

  • Overall first place: The Pennsylvania State University
  • Overall second place: Johns Hopkins University
  • Overall third place: California Polytechnic State University
  • Turbine prototype contest: Kansas State University
  • Project development contest: The Pennsylvania State University
  • Connection creation contest: The Virginia Polytechnic and State University

The DOE Collegiate Wind Competition is partially funded by the DOE, the Penn State College of Engineering, the Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment and the Penn State Sustainability Institute.


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