Geothermal Collegiate Competition

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition offers project-based learning with students solving real-world problems for a chance at thousands of dollars in prize funding!

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC) 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. 

Students of all majors, minors, and career paths are encouraged to participate in the annual geothermal competition. The theme for the competition is updated each year; past topics have included applications for geothermal heat pump technology and heating and cooling buildings, campuses, districts, or entire communities.

Through this competition, students gain renewable energy industry experience and have opportunities to engage with established industry professionals as well as their local communities. Competing in the GCC can serve as an on-ramp into the renewable energy field, and from there into shaping the future of geothermal and the transition to a clean energy economy. 

Fall 2023 GCC

Registration for the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition will open August 1, 2023. This year's competition will feature two tracks: Technical and Policy. Cash prizes of $10,000 for first place teams and $6,000 for second place teams will be awarded in each track. Final deliverables will be due December 2023, with an optional progress submission due in October 2023.

If you are interested in participating in the 2023 competition, there are three initial steps you should take across the summer:

  • READ the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition Rules.
  • GATHER your team—note that all team members must be enrolled in a collegiate institution, and team captains must be U.S. citizens.
  • FOLLOW the challenge on HeroX for the most up-to-date information and to be notified when registration opens.

The GCC is administered for DOE by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); please email with any questions about the competition.

Wondering where to start with geothermal energy? Check out the Geothermal Technologies Office's (GTO) Geothermal Basics and Geothermal FAQs pages.

Class of 2022 GCC Winning Team

In the 2022 competition, student teams designed district use geothermal systems and geothermal curriculums for local schools, partnering with local communities through stakeholder events.

2022 1st Place Winners - Sooners Geothermal, University of Oklahoma

Winning team: The Sooners Geothermal Team from the University of Oklahoma earned first place, and $10K, for designing a system to repurpose six abandoned oil and gas wells in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to provide clean, renewable geothermal energy for more than 730,449 square feet of educational and municipal buildings. The area includes sites within the Absentee Shawnee Tribe and Potawatomi Nation jurisdiction.

Past Competitions

Below are themes from past competitions.

  • Spring 2021: Community Geothermal
    How can direct-use geothermal benefit my community?
    • GTO reached out to the participants of the 2021 GCC to learn how the competition and their backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics prepares them for a future in the clean energy workforce and influenced their career paths. Read the full interviews.
  • Fall 2020: Infographics
    How can print and digital infographics and data visualization foster broader understanding of geothermal energy?
  • Spring 2020: GIS Mapping
    How can 
    geospatial mapping increase our understanding of this important renewable energy resource?
  • 2019: Data Visualization
    Where do you target your next production well to maximize geothermal reservoir performance?
  • 2016: Infographic— "What is the future of geothermal energy and how will it impact you?"
  • 2014: GeoEnergy is Beautiful
  • 2013: Development of a business white paper on geothermal energy production and commercialization in their state or region.
  • 2012: Assessment of geothermal resources at the Snake River Plain
  • 2011: Assessment of geothermal resources at the Rio Grande Rift

In the News

Think GeoEnergy: University of Oklahoma Wins DOE Geothermal Collegiate Competition

The University of Oklahoma: OU Geothermal Team Wins First Place in National Department of Energy Competition



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