Wall of Wind Challenge

WOW! Challenge Overview:

The International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC), located on the campus of Florida International University (FIU), has developed the Wall of Wind Mitigation Challenge for South Florida high school students. This community education outreach project is graciously supported in large part through a grant from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

WOW 12 Fans
The IHRC has developed a research and testing facility called the 12-Fan Wall of Wind (WOW), which is part of IHRC’s Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research. The Wall of Wind at FIU is the largest and most powerful university research facility of its kind and is capable of simulating a Category 5 hurricane – the highest rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Essentially, it is an array of 12 very large electric fan motors that are used to test structures, materials and products and their ability to withstand hurricane force winds.

To learn more about the Wall of Wind, please visit: http://wow.fiu.edu/

The WOW! Challenge is a judged competition. Teams of high school students are challenged to develop an innovative mitigation concept and solution within well-defined guidelines developed by the IHRC’s Wall of Wind Research Team. Student teams prepare three components for the competition to address the hurricane wind mitigation challenge: a physical test, an oral presentation and a written technical paper. The mitigation concepts are tested by the Wall of Wind on the day of the live competition, at FIU’s Engineering & Computing Center.

The competition has real world applications and benefits society as a whole by developing hurricane mitigation techniques that will lead to human safety, property loss reduction, insurance cost reduction, and a “culture of preparedness” for natural disasters. This learning experience involves problem solving, teamwork, creativity and the subjects of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, architectural design and business entrepreneurship.

2015 WOW! Challenge:

  • The objective for the 2015 WOW Challenge is to design a wind mitigation barrier that will provide the best wind mitigation for a Miami Beach hotel property. Imagine a six-story hotel situated along the beach, and between the hotel and the beach is an area that hotel management wants to be protected from wind off the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The competition will require a written technical paper, an oral presentation and a physical test by the Wall of Wind. For all the details, please refer to the specific documents describing the exact instructions found in the WOW! Challenge Documents section below on this web page.
  • Teams can have as many students as they wish to participate in the WOW Challenge. However, on May 20th at FIU, teams can only have 4 students be the official participants representing the team, and they would do the live oral presentation. But, all other students on the team, teachers and parents are welcome to attend the live event, and assist with any supporting roles, and certainly help cheer them on.

Important Dates:

  • Friday, February 27th, 12:15pm – 1:00pm, Information Workshop at FIU Engineering & Computing Center.
    (The workshop was recorded and please view the workshop video at the WOW! Challenge Videos section below on this page. Please also view the workshop PowerPoint at the WOW! Challenge PowerPoints section.)
  • Monday, May 18th, by 12:00pm, Written Technical Papers are due electronically as a PDF document. Please e-mail the written technical paper to Erik Salna at esalna@fiu.edu.
  • Wednesday, May 20th, 8am – 2pm, live competition at FIU Engineering & Computing Center and Wall of Wind.

Date & Location of Competition:

This year’s Wall of Wind Mitigation Challenge will be held in May 20th, 2015, at FIU’s Engineering & Computing Center, located at 10555 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33174.


For more information or questions, please contact:

Erik Salna

Associate Director

International Hurricane Research Center




WOW! Challenge Documents:

WOW! Challenge Powerpoints:


WOW! Challenge Videos:


WOW! Challenge Technical Library:


WOW! Challenge Related Links:

IHRC Website © 2015 All Rights Reserved