MAILBOX: Students Win in Wind

Roger Beale in his wind workshop with Botetourt County, Virginia, high-school students.

The Botetourt County, Virginia, high school students had a great year. The wind electricity team not only won first place in a state competition, but also then went on to win first place in the National KidWind Challenge at the annual American Wind Energy Association conference in Anaheim, California. For more info on the Challenge, see

This group of high-school kids constructed true airfoil wind blades from wood. I really enjoyed working with the team. It was lots of hard work for them—cutting, chipping, and sanding. Credit also goes to Mark Hanson for teaching how to match their alternator to the load using an MPPT fixed-load resistor for maximum performance in the wind tunnel competition. Their coach and educator, Wendy Grimshaw from the Learning Barn, guided the team to victory. Team members included Jacob Leonard, Jonathan Leonard, Josh Grimshaw, Thomas Laughridge, and Tucker Grimshaw.

Coming up is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition 2018. The 2018 rules are to be released very soon. Maximum blade and rotor size will be defined by the DOE, and students are encouraged, but not required, to make the load visually stimulating by indicating the power being generated in an interesting and creative way. For more info, see

I strongly encourage students to pursue a renewable energy education—it’s their future. The Collegiate Wind Competition isn’t exclusively for Integrated Science and Technology students—the project spans across departments and allows students to branch into other subjects outside of their majors.

Roger Beale • Evington, Virginia

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2017 KidWind National Champs.
Still receiving emails on the KidWind subject.

Questions are still being raised, why did "Off THE GRID" KidWind team upset the entire country with a national record breaking power output?

The team had lots of determination and drive "working as a team" very hard sawing, cutting, chipping and sanding their wood wind blades. I found it a real pleasure working with the Off the Grid team.

They moved away from years of flat foam, balsa and learned to construct "real" airfoil NACA twisted wood wind blades.

They dumped the old off-the-shelf generator and built a direct drive PM Alternator.

For best power performance, they learned how to test for MPPT (maximum power point tracking) and installing load resistor that would match the load to alternator.

The parents of the students also played a big part staying heavily engaged teaching basic hand tools and safety. I also provided the Off-Grid Team links to Hugh Piggott and Dan Bartman’s books on Blades and Alternators.

I spent a week on Turbines with Hugh Piggott and Ian Woofenden in Washington State several years ago.

In the below video, Hugh talks about his latest version of Wind Power Workshop: "Building Your Own Wind Turbine".

This is his latest version and I find it very easy to understand on the airfoil blade construction.

Wind Power Workshop:

A Wind Turbine Recipe Book:

Dan Bartman
Homebrew Wind-Power:

These three books will provide a very strong basic background on wind turbines. I have all three, pricing and dates are incorrect on Amazon. Purchase directly from their web sites.


I also had a meeting with Dr. Jonathan Miles, Dr. Keith Holland at James Madison University and the 2018 Collegiate Wind Competition team members.

I've been selected to join the team as an external advisor. I'm so excited and really looking forward to working with the guys competing in Chicago next spring. In all my years... I've never had the opportunity to be involved in such a project like this. It's truly an honor..

The team members will be making a few visits to my workshop over the summer. I plan to share all my hard earned real world experiences... the good, the bad and the ugly that I've had over the past ten years.

Some of the ideas we will discuss are the following:

• How to harness the maximum power and squeeze out all energy for a given swept area of the wind rotor blades. (Blade rotor size will be defined by the Department of Energy 2018 rules to be release very soon.)

• How to handle over speeding, over current and excessive loads.

• How to shut down the wind turbine and/or handle dynamic braking.

• A turbine that is able to yaw, to address changing wind directions; that is safe, reliable, and effective; using sound electrical, mechanical, and aerodynamic practices

• A load system that can match the power being generated. Students are encouraged, but not required, to make the load visually stimulating by indicating the power being generated in an interesting and creative way.

The Energy Department today announced the 12 collegiate teams selected to participate in the third Collegiate Wind Competition. This competition, led by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, challenges undergraduate students to design and build a model wind turbine based on market research and siting considerations, develop a business plan to market the products, and test the turbines against a set of rigorous performance criteria judged by a panel of wind industry leaders. Bringing together next-generation wind energy pioneers with today's industry leaders, the competition will take place during the annual American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois, from May 7–10, 2018.

The Collegiate Wind Competition combines expertise of students from a variety of engineering, business, communications, and social science programs, and challenges them to combine their individual skills to develop state-of-the-art wind energy solutions as a team. Intertwining academic coursework with tangible, hands-on learning, the Collegiate Wind Competition provides valuable real-world experience as students prepare to enter the workforce. Four new schools are competing, along with eight returning teams from either the 2014 and 2016 competitions.

The 12 universities selected to participate in the Collegiate Wind Competition 2018 are:

1.California State University Maritime Academy, Vallejo, California
2.California State University, Chico, Chico, California
3.Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
4.James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia :)
5.Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
6.Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona
7.The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
8.Seattle University, Seattle, Washington
9.Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
10.Universidad del Turabo, Gurabo, Puerto Rico
11.University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
12.Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia

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