April 3, 2023, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Project Wildflower, a team of two Oregon Tech students, has been chosen to advance in the EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP), a competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Tony Augustine is the team captain, and William Stobaugh is the design consultant. Both are graduate students in Renewable Energy Engineering. Their graduate advisor, Feng Shi, Ph.D., also serves as project advisor.

Augustine explained that Project Wildflower is a hybrid solar-wind device with the potential for application in multiple sectors and a focus on aesthetics and environmentally safe and economical installation and decommissioning processes.

“The technology features a vertical axis wind turbine, flat plate solar panel leaves, solar concentrating flowers, a lighting option, and plans to add a solar thermal storage option to the system,” Augustine said. “The hybrid nature allows for less intermittency in power generation, and the goal is to have the device be 85% or more recyclable at the end of its lifespan.”

Project Wildflower aligns with EnergyTech UP’s mission, which was designed to increase awareness about national lab-developed and other promising energy technologies, then equips students with the resources they need to strategize new and transformative ways to make these technologies marketable.

Augustine and Stobaugh pitched their business plan to industry judges during regional events in February, and OTT announced winning teams in March.

Project Wildflower was one of 23 teams out of 184 chosen to advance to the next round of competition.

“It has been a focus of the design process that the device be as sustainable as possible and thus current plans are to offer a decommissioning rebate wherein the old device(s) will be retrieved or shipped back to the company for recycling, and the customer will receive money toward a new replacement system,” Augustine said. “This ensures that the technology and business stay environmentally conscientiousness and that customers will be incentivized to continue to purchase from the company, which, if successful, will continue to come out with new and improved systems and technologies.”

As a regional winner, Project Wildflower was awarded $3,000 for its innovative business solution for bringing cutting-edge energy tech to market. Project Wildflower will advance to the Refine Phase of EnergyTech UP, preparing for the National Pitch Event at Zpryme’s Energy Thought Summit in Austin, Texas, on April 3. After the pitches conclude, up to three national winners will be selected to share a $100,000 prize pool.

NREL says Project Wildflower’s work is an excellent example of the extracurricular projects students at Oregon Tech are doing to advance the energy industry and gain entrepreneurial experience.

Tony Augustine Project Wildflower 3