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Opportunities for University Students and Professors

Adult competitors can immerse themselves in competitions such as designing a more energy-efficient paper industry and constructing a solar-powered house.


Better Buildings Case Competition
The annual Better Buildings Case Competition engages the next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to develop creative solutions to real-world energy efficiency problems for businesses and other organizations across the marketplace. Through the competition, interdisciplinary teams of university students gain critical skills and experience to start careers in clean energy, while supporting the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Initiative goal of reducing energy consumption by at least 20% by 2020 in commercial and industrial buildings across the United States.

ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community
The Building Technologies Office (BTO) has partnered with Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) to launch an online community to share ideas and inspire new, cutting-edge, energy-efficient technologies for our nation’s homes and buildings. This initiative is part of DOE’s larger effort to help reduce energy consumption in homes and buildings while also simultaneously working to enhance U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing. Winning idea submissions will be recognized during BTO’s Industry Day this September in Oak Ridge, TN. Submissions, comments, and votes will be accepted until May 31, 2015.

Race to Zero Student Design Competition
The Race to Zero Student Design Competition is an annual competition open to both undergraduate and graduate students and faculty from any interested collegiate institution in the United States and Canada. The competition is based on a real-world scenario where a builder needs to update an existing product line (house plan) to a high-performance house design or is developing a new high-performance home product line. Teams are presented a specific design problem and are asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new house design that satisfies the project requirements. Note: The deadline to register for the 2015 competition was December 15, 2014.

Solar Decathlon
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate energy-efficient houses powered by the sun. These teams spend almost two years creating houses to compete in 10 contests. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The next event will take place in Fall 2015 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

General Energy and Environment

Georgetown University Energy Prize
The Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP) is a multi-million dollar prize that challenges communities to reduce their energy usage per-capita. After a Letter-of-Intent period during which communities can participate in a review of the final competition rules, the competition will be conducted in four stages over a three year period starting in early 2014. Towns, cities and counties in the U.S. with a population between 5,000 and 250,000 are eligible to apply.

P3: People, Prosperity, and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability
The Environmental Protection Agency's P3 – People, Prosperity, and the Planet—Program is a unique college competition for designing solutions for a sustainable future. P3 offers students quality hands-on experience that brings their classroom learning to life.

National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition is designed to build regional networks of student-focused business creation contests across the country.


2014 Geothermal Student Competition - GeoEnergy is Beautiful
The GeoEnergy Is Beautiful 2014 competition promotes geothermal energy as a key player in the nation's renewable energy mix. Student teams from leading colleges and universities and high school seniors are invited to create concepts for high-quality, high-impact infographics and outreach materials that combine accurate, technical information with clear, data-backed messages and aesthetic appeal.

Hydrogen / Fuel Cells

Hydrogen Student Design Contest
Since 2004, the Hydrogen Student Design Contest has challenged multi-disciplinary teams of university students to apply their creativity and academic skills in the areas of design, engineering, economics, environmental science, business and marketing to the hydrogen and fuel cell industries.  The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students worldwide.  Note: The application period for this contest closed on January 16, 2015.


American Solar Challenge
To compete in the American Solar Challenge, university teams, companies, and clubs from around the world build solar-powered cars and race them across the country.

Technologies and Engineering

Advanced Vehicle Technologies Competitions
EcoCAR 3 is the latest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) series and is North America’s premier collegiate automotive engineering competition. The competition's mission is a vital one: offer an unparalleled hands-on, real-world experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers. EcoCAR 3 challenges 16 North American universities to redesign a Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car that will reduce environmental impact, while maintaining the muscle and performance expected from this iconic American car. Over the course of four years, EcoCAR 3 teams will be tasked to incorporate innovative ideas, solve complex engineering challenges, and apply the latest cutting-edge technologies. The Camaro will keep its iconic body design, while student teams develop and implement eco-power and performance under the hood, retain safety and meet high consumer standards. The teams also will focus on developing technology that will lower emissions by incorporating alternative fuels.


The U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition challenges undergraduate college students from multiple disciplines to investigate innovative wind energy concepts; design, build, and test a wind turbine to perform according to set specifications; develop a business plan to market their turbine concept; and propose innovative solutions to current wind industry barriers. Visit the website for more information about how to participate in the next competition and to meet the 2014 champions. Note: The deadline for proposals was December 15, 2014.