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Blowing away boundaries

University of Manitoba student team becomes first Canadian team in American design competition

October 17, 2023 — 

Students in the Price Faculty of Engineering are pursuing a cleaner future by breaking down the international barriers between Canadian and American universities. The University of Manitoba’s ‘Wind Energy Design’ (WE Design) team recently became the first ever Canadian team to join the US Department of Energy run ‘Collegiate Wind Competition’ – an engineering design competition with a history of ten years of undergraduate rivalries.

Group of students

Coming off a recent sustainability-focused victory at the European-run ‘International Small-Wind Turbine Competition’ in 2022, the WE Design team is excited to make new connections with the undergraduate student teams of the Collegiate Wind Competition. The team has recently established a partnership with the newly formed University of Purdue team, located in Indiana, USA. Together, the two groups of university students are working hard to ensure they place in the Top 12 teams of the 32 total competing teams. The top 12 selected teams will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota in early May 2024 to compete in the ‘Testing’ portion of the Collegiate Wind Competition.

As part of the Collegiate Wind Competition, members from WE Design will be designing a small-scale fixed bottom offshore wind turbine to be tested at the event this summer. The competition has the team compete in four main categories, which focus on the theoretical design work, testing of the developed prototype, their ability to promote renewable energy in their local communities and lastly on the ability to plan out a real-world installation of a wind farm in the Great Lakes. Teams will test their designs using wind tunnels that can blow at speeds of greater than 22m/s and will need to come up with innovative ways to keep their turbines stable in a custom-built tank full of sand and water – simulating the complex challenges of the future of wind energy technology.

“It’s a really great crowd at the Collegiate Wind Competition,” said Hunter Waytt, Team Lead of WE Design, who had the chance to visit the competition in Boulder, CO this past summer. “Everyone is so passionate about what they do and love being involved. I had a blast meeting the rest of the student teams and knew immediately we’d fit right in, even as the only Canadians with their hat in the ring. I can’t wait for this summer – our team is definitely swinging for the fences this year. After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?”

Excited for the new opportunity, the WE Design team plans to make the most of this opportunity by getting involved with local Manitoban communities and high schools to promote a future in renewable energy for younger generations of STEM students. The student group is always looking for industry connections and professionals who share their passion for renewable energy to discuss ways they can collaborate and further promote a career in renewable energy to youth in Manitoba. Keep up with the team by following them on Instagram or by reaching out to them with an email.

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