Published: March 7, 2024 By

In the heart of CU Boulders engineering community, a unique blend of ambition, innovation, and teamwork is taking shape through the Collegiate Wind Competition team. A senior capstone project that is redefining the boundaries of academic collaboration and renewable energy development. As part of the Design Center at the College of Engineering, this team is not just another group of students; they are pioneers at the forefront of wind energy technology.

Their task? To compete in a rigorous competition that includes designing a theoretical wind farm in the Great Lakes region, constructing a model wind turbine for wind tunnel testing, and engaging in CU Wind Team Demonstrating their Project community outreach through innovative mediums like podcasts. After successfully completing the first two rounds, the team is among the 12 that qualified for the final round of the competition, set to take place in Minneapolis in May. With their innovative projects and interdisciplinary teamwork, they are not just competing; they are leading the way toward a more sustainable and renewable energy future

Charting the Financial Voyage  

Funding plays a significant role in this journey, with teams receiving initial capital to kickstart their projects and further funding as they advance through the competition's phases. With an initial budget of $2,000 provided by their university, the team quickly realized that their vision would require significantly more resources.

A critical step in their financial strategy involved applying for a grant from the Engineering Excellence Fund, a unique opportunity for engineering teams to secure additional project funding. Their efforts were successful, providing a vital cash injection not only for the turbine project but also for outreach initiatives integral to their competition goals.

Another initiative was Kidwind, an event designed to engage local elementary students and university classes in renewable energy projects. Participants were tasked with building their own turbine blades, which were then attached to a turbine to see which could generate the most power. The additional funds secured by the team allowed them to enhance these outreach efforts, making them more engaging and fun for participants.

The team's funding journey highlights the importance of external financial support in achieving project goals. While the initial grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and university funds laid the foundation, it was the extra funding from the Engineering Excellence Fund and additional NREL funds that truly enabled the team to realize their ambitious design.

The team recently received another grant totaling about $5,000 from RWE, a German energy company. With these funds, in addition to the NREL funds we have received, we are hoping that we will be able to send all team members and our faculty director to the Collegiate Wind Competition in Minneapolis in May.

Receiving a substantial $15,000 after qualifying for a further phase of the competition was a significant milestone for the team, providing the financial means to fully execute their vision. This journey CU Wind Team Presenting Their Comprehensive Design Review from initial budget constraints to securing the necessary funds highlights the creativity, persistence, and financial acumen required to navigate the financial challenges of engineering projects.

With these funding opportunities, the capstone team is also working to support the construction of a wind tunnel that another Mechanical Engineering Senior Capstone team is working to build. The wind tunnel is an ambitious project that requires a lot of outside funding sources. The team hopes that they will be able to use this wind tunnel to test their model turbine eventually, so they have also been trying to support the wind tunnel team financially. 

As the competition approaches, their excitement is palpable. The team is aware of the challenges ahead, especially given the high bar set by competitors like Kansas State, known for their large and successful team. Yet, the spirit of competition is more than just winning; it's about pushing the boundaries of what's possible, learning, and ultimately contributing to a future where renewable energy is not just an option but the norm.

Engineering Meets Business: A Vision for Collaborative Innovation in Renewable Energy Projects

At the core of their project, the team is tackling both the engineering challenge of crafting a model wind turbine and the crucial financial planning for renewable energy initiatives. They've improved upon previous designs to boost their turbine's performance and efficiency, eagerly anticipating the competition.

Recognizing the importance of financial expertise alongside engineering, they see a significant opportunity for collaboration with business students. This partnership aims to marry technical engineering skills with financial and economic insights, enhancing project viability and sustainability. The team seeks to involve those focused particularly on economics and finance, to bring a well-CU Collegiate Wind Teamrounded approach to their project. Their goal extends beyond competition success; they're pioneering a collaborative model for future renewable energy projects, emphasizing the need for integrated financial planning and technical innovation.

This initiative reflects a broader educational and industrial trend towards interdisciplinary solutions for global challenges. They're not just aiming to demonstrate their engineering skills but are advocating for a new, collaborative approach to renewable energy projects.

Business students interested in joining this forward-thinking team should reach out to aria.mundy@colorado.edu.

 

 

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