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CWC Wind Tunnel Engineered to Last

The Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) has used wind tunnels since its inception in 2014 to test the capabilities, including performance and durability, of student-designed wind turbines. A wind tunnel is a hollow tube with a powerful fan at one end that creates air flow inside the tunnel. Wind tunnels help engineers and manufacturers design, create, and build faster, safer, more reliable, and more efficient products of all kinds—like wind turbines.  

In 2018, a team of engineers, technicians, and machinists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), designed and built the CWC's second-generation (Gen2) wind tunnel. This team worked together on the overall design of the tunnel, and Lee Jay Fingersh handled the performance while Jason Roadman and Heidi Tinnesand worked on the structural and mechanical design together. A team of technicians handled fabrication and assembly.

The first-generation wind tunnels were proof-of-concept models intended for use only as the competition was getting established, and Roadman had prior experience with wind tunnels during his studies at both Virginia Tech and the University of Colorado at Boulder, so he led the project.