wind team

The Trident Wind Cooperative team has 19 members within five majors, which is the largest and most diverse it's ever been.

Over the next year, a team of JMU students will be competing in the Collegiate Wind Competition — a national, environmentally focused contest run by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of this competition is for JMU students to create a wind turbine and potentially put to use in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Gavin Wilkerson, a junior education major who’s competing in the competition, said he’s passionate about renewable fuel. Wilkerson said he joined the team to “encourage clean energy.” 

“Climate change really is an up-and-coming issue that we — our generation — are going to have to deal with,” Wilkerson said. 

Bobby Quinones, a senior integrated science and technology (ISAT) major who’s competing in the competition, said that when people think of building a wind turbine, they may associate this competition with engineering majors — yet there are students from many different majors who joined the team by applying for the program. Quinones said this year’s team is one of the most diverse out of the last several years. The group, named Trident Wind Cooperative, has integrated science and technology, education, engineering, finance and economics majors,  and has 19 student members — the largest it’s ever been. 

Quinones said he’d encourage students to join regardless of their major. He said the wind turbine team wants to be “holistic” so they can “tackle a lot of different problems.”

“It does seem like an engineering-centric thing,” Wilkerson said, “but it really isn’t.”

Quinones said the program is growing and that it’s “really exciting” because more people are joining from different majors. 

Joshua Bautch, a senior engineering major, said the team works on the wind turbine in the Engineering Geosciences Building, and as of now, they’ve started assembling parts, putting them together and testing them. 

Quinones said a project like building a turbine is something he’d rather do for the energy classes he’s required to take for his major because it’s hands-on and feels more “real-world like.”

Wilkerson said he wanted to join the team for educational purposes. 

“As an education major, I feel that it’s important that we educate everyone on this initiative to go for clean energy and strive to reach that point as quickly as possible,” Wilkerson said. 

The team will be graded in three different areas: project development, turbine development and the connection outreach contest — or, in other words, how the team decides to bring awareness to the competition. 

Quinones said there are different groups within the team working on each of these areas during class time. The students are required to take a fall class in the College of Business and a spring class in the College of Integrated Science and Engineering, though Quinones said the classes don’t include too much oversight.

“The teachers don’t really do much,” Quinones said. “They just give us resources, and then it’s really up to us to do everything.”

Edwin Clamp, a professor in the College of Business, said the class is unlike others because guest speakers who are established in energy companies sometimes attend and talk about the industry. Because these students are participating in the competition where many people from different big companies within the growing industry attend, Clamp said the students are putting themselves in a great position for a job after college.  

“It’s more like working in a start-up,” Clamp said.

The team also participates in activities outside of the classroom. For example, Quinones said the team went to a renewable energy festival in downtown Harrisonburg. 

“It’s a lot of team bonding,” Quinones said. “You won’t take another class like this.”

JMU has a good chance of winning because of its location in Virginia, Quinones and Clamp both said. Clamp said that in Virginia Beach, underwater wind turbines are becoming more popular, so the students are in a good position to learn about them.

The students on the team will continue to work on their wind turbine throughout the school year. The team and the professors strongly advise students to apply for the program. 

“I would just encourage any and all leaders who show any interest in clean energy to consider looking into us and possibly applying to participate for next year’s team,” Wilkerson said. 

Contact Adaire Adams at adams5al@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.