Department of Energy

Going for Gold: 4 Winning STEM Student Competitions in 2018

February 13, 2018

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Faster. Higher. Stronger. That’s the motto of the Olympics, where athletes from around the world are now putting their skills to the test at the 2018 winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea. With that same competitive spirit, student teams will clash at academic competitions in disciplines even more important than sports: science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM.

Here are just a few Energy Department-supported STEM competitions taking place this year:

1. National Science Bowl

2017 National Science Bowl

To qualify for the Olympics, athletes must first score big at trial events. Similarly, student teams need to win regional tournaments for a spot at the National Science Bowl, which takes place April 25 to April 29 in Washington, D.C. Beginning in January, more than 9,000 high school students and 4,500 middle school students started competing in 65 high school and 50 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments.

Science Bowl tests students’ knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, energy, and other subjects through a fast-paced question-and-answer format. Here’s a winning stat: the National Science Bowl is one of America’s largest science competitions with more than 275,000 students participating in the event since it started in 1991. Follow @DOE_SC_NSB on Twitter for all the action.

2. EcoCar 3

Virginia Tech at the EcoCar3 competition

In the bobsleigh event at the Winter Olympics, teams push the envelope to make their sleds perform at the highest levels. In EcoCar 3, university students flex their engineering muscles to convert their ride, a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, to an ultra fuel-efficient vehicle without sacrificing the iconic sports car’s performance. The competition is in its fourth and final year and involves 16 teams of university students, with the final event scheduled for May 22 in Hollywood, California. It’s the ultimate training ground for tomorrow’s auto industry leaders!

3. Collegiate Wind Competition

Collegiate Wind Competition 2016 in New Orleans

From snowboarding to skiing, wind plays a pretty big factor in many Olympic sports. It’s also a key player in America’s energy game. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind generated an estimated 691,000 megawatt hours per day last year and is expected to overtake hydropower as the largest renewable electricity generation source next year. As the wind industry grows, so does the need for a well-trained workforce. That’s the goal of the Collegiate Wind Competition in Chicago May 8 to May 10. The competition challenges 12 teams of university students to design, build and test a small wind turbine, conduct market research, develop a business plan, and site a wind farm. Penn State University won the competition in 2014 and 2016. Will they take home the top prize again? Stay updated on Facebook.

4. Race to Zero

Race to Zero student design competition 2017

In the Olympics, scoring zero means you’re probably not making the medal podium but when it comes to energy savings, a zero score translates to a big win for your pocketbook and the planet. That’s the idea behind the Race to Zero Student Design Competition, where America’s future architects, engineers, and construction managers design super sustainable buildings of tomorrow. A zero energy ready building is so energy-efficient that renewable power can offset most or all of the building’s annual energy consumption. Eighty four teams of college students are vying for one of the 40 spots in the finals, slated for April 20 to 22 at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.

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