Happy STEMtember From The Drill Down

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

This fall and throughout the year, you can find science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) well, everywhere. STEMtember highlights the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) and Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) commitment to STEM education and their work to energize and inspire the next generation to pursue a career in STEM. GTO recognizes the importance of developing a diverse workforce that will help us transition to a clean energy economy, creating millions of good-paying jobs and ensuring affordable and reliable energy options for ALL Americans.

From the Director: A STEM-educated workforce is critical to the success of the clean energy economy. GTO prioritizes strategies to encourage students to enter STEM careers and build diversity in the geothermal industry. Through its collegiate competitions, GTO is working to prepare and inspire the industry’s future workforce by engaging students not traditionally involved in geothermal and focusing on projects that benefit many different types of communities. GTO’s research and development activities and opportunities provide a pathway for new geothermal technologies, encourage energy equity, and help create jobs.

Below you will find information on STEM Announcements, STEM Competitions and Prizes, STEM Job Opportunities, STEM Publications and Products, STEM Spotlight, and more.

Riddle me this: What did the limestone say to the geologist? Scroll to the bottom to find out!

Share The Drill Down with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to subscribe. Feedback or suggestions for content? Please reach us at DOE.Geothermal@ee.doe.gov

STEM Announcements

DOE Selects Awardees, Including 6 Universities, To Receive up to $12M for Innovative Geothermal Techniques

Today, DOE announced the selection of 7 projects to receive up to $12 million to support the development of novel technologies and techniques to drive down costs and advance the commercialization of enhanced geothermal systems. The selectees include 6 universities and a national laboratory.

Upcoming Events and Webinars

Secretary Granholm to Speak at Geothermal Rising Conference 

Attend the 2021 Geothermal Rising Conference (GRC) from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm will open the event with a discussion of the power and promise of geothermal. The GRC is the largest annual gathering of the geothermal community. GRC will now be a hybrid meeting, allowing attendees to join virtually. View the in-person and virtual attendance options.

STEM Competitions and Prizes

Register Now for the 2021–2022 Geothermal Collegiate Competition!

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC) engages students in developing innovative geothermal energy applications and gaining real-world career skills to prepare them for the clean energy workforce. The competition is now open; visit the 2022 Geothermal Collegiate Competition website to learn more!

GTO reached out to participants of the 2021 GCC to learn how their diverse backgrounds and experiences are leading them to a future in STEM careers.

For University of California, Berkeley student Eula Sasaki-Billaut, pursuing STEM provides a pathway to addressing environmental justice issues.

What are your career plans and how has the competition influenced them?

My experience competing in the GCC has shifted my focus in how I envision myself contributing to climate change mitigation strategies. As a student in STEM, there is an expectation that we should focus on advancing research and cutting-edge technologies. However, this competition introduced me to an important intersection between technical expertise, policy, and economics. I hope to continue exploring this area in my coursework and in future opportunities to drive implementation of green energy technologies.

What advice would you give a student interested in getting engaged with STEM initiatives at the Department of Energy?

Go for it! There’s an enormous range of projects to get involved in, and you don’t need prior experience to be successful. My team and I knew very little about the geothermal energy landscape when we entered this competition, and we were quite nervous about our lack of exposure to the topic. Enthusiasm and a desire to learn were the key—don't be afraid to dive into the literature, talk to experts or professionals in the field, and have some fun!

Read the full interview and other GCC profiles on GTO's webpage

Ready, Set, Solar Decathlon!

Power your future and get together to form a team from your school and apply to the Solar Decathlon, which challenges students to design and build high-performance, low carbon buildings powered by renewables! Applications are due Oct. 26. For more information, visit the competition website.

Other EERE Competitions

Check out other EERE Competitions, including the Collegiate Wind Competition, Solar District Cup, and Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, to see how you can get involved and find out how your design, engineering, and knowledge stack up against your peers. 

Jump into STEM

Get involved at GTO!

Are you looking to participate in geothermal research and development activities? GTO has opportunities for people already established in their STEM careers to get involved.

You can serve as a judge and help in the submission review process for each of the three phases of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize. You will have an opportunity to engage with GTO staff and other geothermal experts while learning what GTO looks for in successful applications. To learn more about this opportunity, contact Technology Manager Alex Prisjatschew at alexandra.prisjatschew@ee.doe.gov.

Are you interested in serving as a merit reviewer for GTO research, development, and demonstration proposals? Serving as a merit reviewer is a great way to get directly involved in geothermal research and learn more about specific initiatives and how the federal review process works. There are several opportunities to participate in 2021 and 2022. Submit your resume or CV to doe.geothermal@ee.doe.gov.

DOE Internship Opportunities

DOE offers volunteer opportunities for high school students, internships and mentorships for college students, and employment opportunities for recent graduates. For open opportunities, visit the internships webpage.  

STEM Publications and Products

STEM at Home

Passionate about STEM and finding yourself looking for more? As many of us find ourselves still working and learning virtually, we look for new ways to keep our knowledge sharp. GTO has compiled a list of resources for you and your family to dig into without even leaving your home! For more information, visit GTO's webpage.

Evaluating the Feasibility of Geothermal Deep Direct-Use in the U.S.

Increase your knowledge of geothermal by reading the latest article from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the journal of Energy Conversion and Management to learn more about the techno-economic feasibility of geothermal deep direct-use for heating, cooling, and thermal energy storage in the United States. This report includes the following highlights.

  • Deep direct-use projects were evaluated for heating, cooling, and thermal storage. 
  • Performance was compared with non-geothermal systems and other countries. 
  • Subsurface, surface, and financial conditions significantly impact feasibility. 
  • Attractive levelized costs of energy found for heating, cooling, and thermal storage.  

STEM Spotlight

Drilling Contractor Magazine Interview Featuring GTO Project Engineer George Stutz

GTO’s George Stutz talked with Stephen Whitfield from Drilling Contractors Magazine about lessons learned transitioning from oil and gas to geothermal drilling. Watch the interview. For more information, visit GTO’s presentations webpage to view a recording and presentation slides Stutz shared at the IADC Drilling Engineers Committee’s Q2 Technology Forum.

GTO Staff Spotlight

GTO interviewed several office members to see what inspired them, how they use STEM in their daily work, and what advice they have to share.

We talked with Elisabet Metcalfe, GTO’s stakeholder engagement lead, who works side-by-side with stakeholders to identify and discover opportunities to advance GTO’s mission and visibility in the industry and beyond. We sat down with Elisabet and discussed how her STEM background helps her in her day-to-day job, advice to recent grads, and more.

How has your STEM background helped you in your career?

In so many ways! It’s so integral to who I am at this point, it’s hard to tease the STEM part out. But if I were to boil it down to one thing, I would say my STEM background has taught me resilience. I can fail spectacularly, try new ideas, reapproach, backpedal, charge ahead, crash and burn, but just keep trying. My STEM background has made me a tinkerer, I guess. It’s the empirical, experimental thinking that helps me appreciate the success in the failure, and that’s it’s about the journey and not some ideal job at the end of the rainbow.

Read the full interview as well as other staff spotlights.

In Case You Missed It

Secretary of Energy Granholm in Alaska To Explore Pathways to Geothermal

In August, Secretary Granholm visited the Makushin volcano on Unalaska Island with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to raise awareness of Alaska’s abundant renewable energy resources. Read more about their visit and the opportunities for geothermal energy in Alaska.

Geothermal Around the Web

The Centerpiece of Microsoft’s Massive New Expansion is 550 Feet Underground. The unlikely centerpiece of Microsoft’s campus expansion isn’t a spaceship or a glass mountain. It is a geothermal energy plant—one of the largest in North America.

Digging for Newer, Cleaner Solutions: WVU-led Team Tapped To Explore Geothermal Energy. DOE has awarded $7.25 million to a West Virginia University research team, who will drill a three-mile deep well to explore whether geothermal heat can decrease the university’s energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint.

The Geothermal Option—An Opportunity Not to be Missed. Read how geothermal offers solutions for reducing fossil fuel use, transforming our energy supply, and improving the livability of our communities.

Answer: Don’t take me for Granite!

Did we miss your event or an interesting media piece? Please reach out to us at DOE.Geothermal@ee.doe.gov!