Students preparing for Collegiate Wind Competition

NAU's Wind students pose on the stairs

A group of NAU undergraduate students is in a whirlwind of learning about green energy as the university continues to make headway in its wind research initiatives.

A cross-disciplinary team of students has been building a wind turbine, which they will bring to New Orleans in late May for the Collegiate Wind Competition.

NAU’s team is made up of students from the W.A. Franke College of Business and the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences.

Jess Robinson, a senior who before this project was unaware that wind turbines need brakes, has been tasked with building and testing a brake system for the group’s turbine. After creating a prototype and testing the electronic circuit, Robinson soldered the components together.

“This is something I can see functioning, or not functioning, right in front of me, so troubleshooting and tweaking these brakes has really tested my fundamentals of electrical engineering, as well as keeping track of the competition rules and regulations,” Robinson said.

The opportunity to work on the turbine with students from other majors has been a helpful aspect of the endeavor, said Karin Wadsack, who is leading the project, along with David Willy, a mechanical engineering faculty member.

Community partners, including Jim Corning of Novakinetics and Mike Clifton of Abundant Renewable Energy, have been invaluable in preparing students for the upcoming competition, added Wadsack.

And the good news around NAU’s wind energy initiatives keeps blowing in, with the university being awarded funding for the Wind for Schools program, an initiative that lacked funding for the past couple of years, Wadsack said. “The grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory WINDExchange program will support a number of undergraduates working with students, teachers and the community in wind energy education and promoting general awareness of energy issues.”


Video shot and edited by Kiril Kirkov, a CCC2NAU transfer student.