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The U.S. Department of Energy offers opportunities for collegiate students and adults to participate in innovation competitions.


Race to Zero Student Design Competition
The Race to Zero Student Design Competition is an annual competition open to both undergraduate and graduate students and faculty from any interested collegiate institution in the United States and Canada. The competition is based on a real-world scenario where a builder needs to update an existing product line (house plan) to a high-performance house design or is developing a new high-performance home product line. Teams are presented a specific design problem and are asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new house design that satisfies the project requirements.


Geothermal Design Challenge 2016
In spring 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office, in partnership with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL), launched a competition for high school and university students to design an infographic that illustrates the value and potential of geothermal energy. More than 100 teams from across the United States, comprised of 2-3 students each, submitted their infographics and the top eleven were selected by a committee of engineers, energy experts, and creative professionals.

Hydrogen / Fuel Cells

Hydrogen Student Design Contest
Since 2004, the Hydrogen Student Design Contest has challenged multi-disciplinary teams of university students to apply their creativity and academic skills in the areas of design, engineering, economics, environmental science, business and marketing to the hydrogen and fuel cell industries.  The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students worldwide. 


American Solar Challenge
To compete in the American Solar Challenge, university teams, companies, and clubs from around the world build solar-powered cars and race them across the country.

Solar Decathlon
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate energy-efficient houses powered by the sun. These teams spend almost two years creating houses to compete in 10 contests. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The next event will take place in Fall 2017 at the Denver, Colorado.

Technology to Market

Cleantech University Prize Competition
The Energy Department’s (DOE’s) Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) aims to inspire and equip the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators by providing them with competitive funding for business development and commercialization training and other educational opportunities. Launched in 2015, Cleantech UP builds on its precursor, the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, which expanded student engagement in clean energy technologies from 2011 to 2015. Since the competition started, participants have formed more than 200 ventures, created 120+ jobs, and raised more than $120 million in follow-on funding.

Georgetown University Energy Prize
The Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP) is a multi-million dollar prize that challenges communities to reduce their energy usage per-capita. After a Letter-of-Intent period during which communities can participate in a review of the final competition rules, the competition will be conducted in four stages over a three year period starting in early 2014. Towns, cities and counties in the U.S. with a population between 5,000 and 250,000 are eligible to apply.

P3: People, Prosperity, and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability
The Environmental Protection Agency's P3 – People, Prosperity, and the Planet—Program is a unique college competition for designing solutions for a sustainable future. P3 offers students quality hands-on experience that brings their classroom learning to life.


Advanced Vehicle Technologies Competitions
EcoCAR 3 is the latest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) series and is North America’s premier collegiate automotive engineering competition. The competition's mission is a vital one: offer an unparalleled hands-on, real-world experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers. EcoCAR 3 challenges 16 North American universities to redesign a Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car that will reduce environmental impact, while maintaining the muscle and performance expected from this iconic American car. Over the course of four years, EcoCAR 3 teams will be tasked to incorporate innovative ideas, solve complex engineering challenges, and apply the latest cutting-edge technologies. The Camaro will keep its iconic body design, while student teams develop and implement eco-power and performance under the hood, retain safety and meet high consumer standards. The teams also will focus on developing technology that will lower emissions by incorporating alternative fuels.


The U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition challenges undergraduate college students from multiple disciplines to investigate innovative wind energy concepts; design, build, and test a wind turbine to perform according to set specifications; develop a business plan to market their turbine concept; and propose innovative solutions to current wind industry barriers. Visit the website for more information about how to participate in the next competition and to meet the champions.