Energy Week to include inaugural sustainable energy competition

Sara Schleede

Twenty teams of UT students will have 24 hours to create plans for a more sustainable campus at the inaugural Longhorn Energy Summit, which will take place Jan. 27–28 as part of Energy Week 2018.

Developed by the new student-run organization Energy Olympiad, the Longhorn Energy Summit is open to students of all experience levels and majors in order to encourage participation and varied perspectives.

“We want more students to be … creating ideas that will spearhead the next movement of energy sustainability,” said Vivianne Tu, deputy managing director of Energy Olympiad and business honors and management junior.

Students will be placed into teams of two to four people and pick from a list of eight of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to build their project around. Some goals include affordable energy, clean water, sanitation and responsible consumption.

“(We’re) not giving a particular topic so that it’s everyone solving one prompt in a different way,” said Karan Jareth, managing director of Energy Olympiad. “It’s a broad range of topics that could cover anything, so it allows for more creativity and different ideas.”

Throughout the weekend, faculty and mentors will offer workshops and office hours to advise the teams. Jareth, a petroleum engineering junior, said he is not expecting fully developed prototypes; however, he hopes students will create a solution to the best of their abilities and make connections with industry leaders so they can further establish their idea beyond the competition.

“If they can fully understand the sustainable development goals, the market they’re entering, (and) prove that this is a viable solution and that this can then be taken forward, that’s what we’re trying to spur,” Jareth said.

Students can apply for the summit online until tonight at midnight. The teams will present their ideas on the afternoon of Jan. 28, and the top four teams will give a final presentation Feb. 3 before a panel of judges. The winners will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

Robert Hebner, director of the Center for Electromechanics, said opportunities such as these allow students to train for big changes in energy policy, which is especially important in a time of rapidly changing energy technology.

“Energy Week gives people the chance to look up from, ‘Did I recycle the right piece of plastic?’ to ‘What can I really do to make the world fundamentally better in a decade?’” Hebner said.