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College of Business

Chico State Interdisciplinary Wind Team Attends 2019 Collegiate Wind Competition

Brandon Ruiz (left), Andres Duran (right), and Ryan Espinosa (middle) working on a small scale prototype wind turbine.

A group of six students representing four majors in three different colleges at California State University, Chico went to Golden and Westminster, Colorado, to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition on May 14, 2019. Environmental science majors Jeanette Burdick and Olivia Alexander, with project management major Zach Merrifield lead the site development group, and mechanical engineering majors Brandon Ruiz and Andres Duran with mechatronic engineering major Ryan Espinosa were members of the technical design group.

The site development group focused on identifying a location to install a 100-megawatt wind farm within 100 miles of Chico, as well as the challenges and issues of planning, constructing, and maintaining the site. The group also had to accurately estimate the cost of installation, maintenance, and operation including estimating the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for the facility. This a standardized metric for accessing the cost of an energy installation to determine its profitability.

The technical design team designed and built a small scale prototype wind turbine that was tested in a wind tunnel that was required to respond to various wind regimes, including maximum wind speeds of 45 mph, produce power from any wind direction, and simulate an electrical failure by sensing an electrical disconnect and bringing the blades to a near standstill and then start them up again fully autonomously.

The team worked closely throughout the fall and spring 2019 semesters sharing expertise and responsibilities. They were one of 12 schools that competed in the event from across the United States and Puerto Rico including last year’s champions from the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo. Pennsylvania State University took home top honors, but the Chico State team learned many valuable lessons and are excited to be competing in the Collegiate Wind Competition 2020 next year. If you are interested in learning more about the Chico State Collegiate Wind team email faculty advisor David Alexander at dgalexander@csuchico.edu.

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