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Editor's Note: The Registration Deadline has been extended to November 12th.

If there’s one thing that absolutely must be in place to build a robust clean energy economy, it’s a robust and well-trained clean energy workforce. Think about it – we’re doing something here that we’ve never really done before, at least not to this scale. It’s one thing to install solar panels on top of large building complexes and in huge fields – but how about every home in America? And if we’re really going to use electric vehicles to the scale that David Sandalow talked about yesterday, how are we actually going to get there? By building charging stations in every major city, minor city and on every highway in the country. No small feat, and again, it’s largely uncharted territory. The same goes for some of the potentially revolutionary advances being made in the geothermal energy (using heat from the ground for power).

Lucky for us, the Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are working together to take the bull by horns. They’re investing in a new generation of geothermal workers through the National Geothermal Student Competition. This is a new contest and the first of its kind in providing students with an opportunity to do work at a real geothermal site and present their plans to some of the nation’s top experts. Under the direction of professors, up to 10 intercollegiate student teams will conduct a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary assessment of the commercial geothermal energy potential of the Rio Grande Rift in Colorado and New Mexico. Students will be challenged to advance their understanding of all the major aspects inherent in the process of exploring resources and preparing a geothermal development plan.

Selected student teams will be awarded up to $10,000 each as seed money to use during the competition and each team’s comprehensive development plans will be judged by a panel of experts in mid-2011. Winning teams will have unique opportunities to continue their work through internships in the national laboratories and industry.

University undergraduates and graduate students are encouraged to apply now! 

Proposals are due November 1, 2010. Final proposals will be selected December 2010. 

For more information and how to submit a proposal, please visit

Andy Oare is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs