James Madison University

Undergraduate and Graduate Education

Undergraduate Education

The Center for Wind Energy at JMU is recognized statewide and nationally as the cornerstone academic institution in Virginia from where a broad range of wind education, research, and development efforts are coordinated.

There is an undergraduate education component to the Wind for Schools program in which classes that integrate wind energy education are offered and students work on wind energy-related senior capstone projects. JMU offers a diverse range of programs, majors, minors, and other academic opportunities that address wind energy and sustainable development and practices in general. The Integrated Science and Technology program which incorporates a three-semester senior project/thesis has supported wind-related efforts for undergraduates since 1998. There are even opportunities to study abroad and learn more about wind energy in other countries.

In addition, JMU is competing in the inaugural National Collegiate Wind Competition (NCWC) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The CWE also advises the Student Wind Energy Association on campus and supports student volunteers and interns. Many of the students that have taken wind energy-related classes, completed senior projects related to wind, or worked with the CWE have been very successful in the wind industry.


There are a handful of courses offered at JMU through the Integrated Science and Technology Department that cover wind energy topics including:

  • Energy Lab
  • Role of Energy in Modern Society
  • Sustainability: Ecological Perspectives
  • Energy Economics and Policy
  • International Energy Studies
  • Wind in the Community (IDLS majors)
  • Introduction to Wind Energy (required for the NCWC team)
  • Issues in Wind Issues (Dual Enrollment course with Massanutten Technical Center in Harrisonburg)
  • Introduction to Wind Turbine Mechanics (Dual Enrollment course with Massanutten Technical Center in Harrisonburg)

Senior Capstone Projects

In addition to curriculum development, we engage undergraduates in wind related senior capstone projects to increase wind energy education. Students in the ISAT program have been doing wind related projects since 1999 – see the student project archive for an idea of the types of projects.

National Collegiate Wind Competition

James Madison University was one of ten colleges and universities chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to compete in the inaugural National Collegiate Wind Competition (NCWC), which took place in Spring 2014. The tasks for the competition  involve building and testing a small portable wind turbine capable of charging small electronic devices, developing a business plan for the product, and debating on wind energy topics. In order to complete this project, the JMU team drew faculty and students from a variety of programs and departments, including Engineering, Integrated Science and Technology, Business, Industrial Design, Political Science, and Communication Studies.

Learn more about the Competition and Madison Wind Solutions.

Student Wind Energy Association

The Student Wind Energy Association (SWEA) is a pilot American Wind Energy Association Student Chapter. The organization exists to provide an opportunity for students to learn about the wind industry, to develop relationships with industry professionals and researchers, to provide education and outreach, and to raise awareness about wind energy. SWEA focuses on campus and community enrichment through an interdisciplinary approach. Members participate in a variety of interesting activities including, outreach events at fairs and festivals, organizing and hosting campus-wide turbine challenges, technology demos and projects, as well as act as a volunteer pool for the CWE. Students also fundraise to attend professional conferences around the country.

Interns and Student Volunteers

The CWE encourages student involvement in wind research. Each summer the Center hires interns to help with current projects. There is an application process for these internships. If you are interested in an internship next summer please contact us. In addition, an announcement that we are accepting applications is sent out to all interested students as well as to many colleges around the JMU campus each April.

Alumni in the Wind Industry

Many students who work with the CWE go on to work in the wind industry upon graduation. Visit our wind alumni page for a list of students working in the wind industry.

Graduate Education

At the graduate level, JMU offers a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Environmental Resource Management in conjunction with the University of Malta that includes wind energy-related curricula. There are also universities all over the country that support wind energy-related Master’s and PhD programs. See below for a list of other universities and colleges with wind programs.

Other University Programs

Below are websites that you can learn more about universities and colleges that offer wind related programs as well as learn about potential career options: