Development and enhancement of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is essential for building the clean energy workforce of tomorrow. From solar panel installers and plant operators to national lab researchers and engineers, the success of our nation’s climate goals depends on STEM careers.

Why Clean Energy Matters
Transitioning the United States to a clean energy economy enhances economic growth, energy independence, and the health and well-being of the American people.
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A variety of perspectives and experiences leads to more innovative solutions that propel successful and equitable energy transitions across the country. This is why it is equally important to ensure that the pipeline for energy careers is diverse and includes people from all backgrounds, especially underrepresented groups such as people of color, people with disabilities, and students from low-income backgrounds or who are first in their family to attend college.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) investments in STEM support student competitions and prizes; career resources for both students and educators; and internships, fellowships, and offerings for graduates and postdoctoral professionals. EERE also works with minority-serving institutions, minority business enterprises, and other diverse professional organizations to raise awareness of funding opportunities and career pathway support.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), manages these investments through the Office of Integrated Strategies and EERE’s three core divisions: renewable energy, buildings and industry, and sustainable transportation and fuels.

The Three I’s of Diversity

A circle consisting of three parts, labelled, “Inspire,” “Initiate,” and “Integrate,” and each with icons representing their contribution to “The Three I’s of Diversity.”

EERE’s strategy for expanding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in STEM is focused on the three I’s: Inspiring future clean energy professionals, initiating new ideas across program offices, and integrating successful programs into our daily operations.

EERE’s strategy for expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and with external stakeholders is based around three focus areas:

Inspire future and current underrepresented STEM candidates to pursue work in clean energy industries by developing programs for pre-K through 12th-grade students and continuing activities for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Initiate new ideas across program offices to encourage diversity in STEM in clean energy industries. This includes lowering barriers for HBCUs, other MSIs, and minority businesses to work for and with EERE.

Integrate successfully initiated, diverse programs into our daily business practices in order to give program offices more tools to increase their presence within underrepresented STEM communities. 


EERE’s Approach to Enhance Education & Diversity in Clean Energy Careers

EERE provides resources for educators and supports STEM programming and clean energy education at colleges and universities. In addition, several EERE funding opportunities are designed to support advancements in STEM education and workforce development, including: 

  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Clean Energy Education Prize is a $7.75 million prize competition with two tracks that helps HBCU institutions develop programming to strengthen the participation of K-12 and community college students in STEM fields related to clean energy.
  • Offshore Wind Centers of Excellence is a $4.75 million funding opportunity will create one or more university-led Centers of Excellence to cultivate offshore wind expertise at American universities, address key offshore wind development challenges, and educate the next generation of offshore wind experts in the United States.

Student competitions help prepare high school, college, and graduate students to join the clean energy workforce. These competitions challenge student teams to pursue innovative ideas for clean energy solutions in technology and business. Participants acquire valuable industry experience and exposure to career opportunities while connecting with experts. Past and current opportunities include:

  • AlgaePrize encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain.
  • Collegiate Wind Competition helps college students prepare for jobs in the wind and renewable energy workforce through real-world experiences with wind energy technology, project development, finance, communications, and outreach.
  • EcoCAR EV Challenge tasked students from 15 North American universities to engineer next-generation electric vehicles.
  • FIRST Robotics is a five-week-long challenge for high school students in which they build and program robots.
  • Geothermal Collegiate Competition invites teams from collegiate institutions to develop real-world geothermal solutions while competing for cash prizes and gaining resume experience in the renewable energy industry.
  • Hydropower Collegiate Competition calls on interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to offer unique solutions to complex hydropower challenges.
  • JUMP into STEM seeks to inspire the next generation of building scientists, focusing on creative ideation and diversity in the building science field.
  • Marine Energy Collegiate Competition provides students with real-world experience and industry connections that will help them prepare for careers in the marine energy sector and the blue economy.
  • Solar Decathlon challenges students to design and build high-performance, low-carbon buildings that address issues related to climate change, affordability, and environmental justice.
  • Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district.

Explore more EERE prizes and competitions.

With several programs to attract candidates from underrepresented communities, EERE provides opportunities for students, recent graduates, and others to jumpstart STEM careers through internships, fellowships, and research opportunities, including:

Students and other job seekers can also use EERE’s career maps to identify how their academic backgrounds may translate to a renewable energy career or explore opportunities to join the Clean Energy Corps

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Clean Energy Workforce

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We know that diverse opinions and perspectives lead to better solutions. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is searching for people from all backgrounds to apply to join our team and help solve one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Video by the U.S. Department of Energy

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