Cal Maritime has been chosen by the US Department of Energy to compete in its ninth consecutive Collegiate Wind Competition in the 2021-2022 academic year.  Only two other universities – Penn State and Northern Arizona University - have been selected to compete in all nine competitions since its inception in the 2013-2014 year.  The other universities competing in 2021-2022 will be: Brigham Young, James Madison, Johns Hopkins, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Washington State Everett.  Selection is based on a competitive proposal submission and comes with funding for travel and supplies. 

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the US energy industry (along with solar and natural gas), and this growth is projected to continue through mid-century.  Furthermore, several projects are being planned to develop offshore wind farms off the east and west coasts.   To help develop workforce for this growing industry, the US Department of Energy developed the Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) in 2013.  It requires multidisciplinary steams to complete three main tasks: 1) The design, fabrication, and testing of a fully functioning small scale wind turbine, 2) The development of a large scale wind farm, including siting, financial planning, and environmental impact, and 3) planning community outreach activities in wind energy and engaging with wind professionals about careers in the industry.   

Collegiate wind team photo from 2019
Cal Maritime Collegiate Wind Team Photo, October 2019

It has been a long and rewarding journey for the Cal Maritime program.  Over 50 students from five majors -Mechanical Engineering, Marine Engineering Technology, Facilities Engineering Technology, Global Studies & Marine Affairs, and International Business and Logistics -- majors have participated since 2013.  Cal Maritime has finished in almost every place from last to first, with two 1st place finishes (2018 and 2020), 2nd in 2015 and 3rd in 2019.   Collegiate Wind Team alumni have gone on to a variety of careers, including some in the wind and renewable energy sector, and many still show up to events to support and advise the teams. 

“The key to our success is that each team has contributed something to develop the program further for the next year”, says Dr. Tom Nordenholz, Principal Investigator and lead faculty advisor. “That includes our equipment, such as the wind tunnel and dynamometer test stand, training manuals and software tutorials, outreach presentations, new relationships with industry, and, of course, ideas.”  

“Overall, CSU Maritime Academy's involvement in CWC has brought valuable experience to both students and faculty for many years”, says Veronica Boe, senior director for research and sponsored programs.  “In addition, the campus has learned the importance of this growing industry.  The specialized requirements of the competition have provided unique and broad exposure for all participants that will greatly benefit all students as they enter the wind energy workforce.”  

Learn more at the Collegiate Wind Competition website

Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.