Boosting U Students' Most Innovative and Boldest Ideas for Tackling Climate Change
Meet the Finalists for the 2023 Wilkes Center Student Innovation Prize
Graduate Research Assistant Electrical & Computer Engineering
This project proposes a novel renewable energy system that generates power via the daily heating and nightly cooling of the earth, known as the diurnal temperature variation. This can be accomplished using a type of artificial muscle known as a twisted coiled polymer actuator, which can be designed to either contract or expand when heated.
Undergraduate, Architectural Studies
Graduate, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
This project aims at building a self-sustained and eco-friendly living prototype that ensures passive survivability for the Diné residents by taking a Dennehotso, a Navajo chapter, as a pilot site to illustrate the design. It proposes to develop a holistic solution that incorporates modularized components to decarbonize the tribal land. Serving as a template project for decarbonizing rural communities, this project strives to improve the well-being of the Diné community by offering a holistic infrastructural and cultural solution that ensures net-zero carbon emissions.
Audri Yasmin Dara
Undergraduate, Material Science Engineer and Philosophy
This project proposes the University of Utah reduce the need for students to commute by car to campus by investing in the Utah Transit Authority in order to improve bus service to the campus. The proposal also includes incentivizing students to use public transit by creating some type of rewards system.
Graduate, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Md. Rabiul Hasan
Graduate, Electrical & Computer Engineering
This project proposes a new method for more accurately and efficiently measuring soil organic carbon content by using a UV-based, in-situ sensor network. These sensors can by used to more effectively track soil organic carbon content over time, which is necessary to understand trends.
Our Call to Action
Tackling climate change is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. Climate solutions hold immense potential to drive a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for people and communities in the US and around the globe. We conceive of climate solutions broadly, including entrepreneurial and technological innovations as well as new policies and programs. Universities can serve as incubators for climate solutions and foster student innovation around scalable, timely, and impactful solutions.
The Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy invited students at the University of Utah to submit their most innovative, creative, and bold ideas for tackling climate change in our inaugural Student Innovation Prize. Prizes submissions should detail the scalable and innovative impact for mitigating climate change, feasibility, and potential for co-benefits to people and/or ecosystems (see below for details on selection criteria).
- $40,000 of prizes ($20K first prize, $10K second prize, two $5K Third prizes)
- Open to all University of Utah students (undergraduate & graduate students)
- 4-5 page (single spaced, minimum font size 12 and 1” margins. Figures should be inline with the text, and are considered part of the page limit while the bibliography is not part of the page limit).
- Innovative climate solutions pitches by individuals or teams (maximum of 5 people per team).
- Submissions should address all three criteria of scalable impact, feasibility, and other benefits and include a section on background and expertise of team members. If relevant for the solution, the submission may include a short business plan.
- DUE at the end of Earth Week at 5 PM MDT on Friday, April 21st.
- Winners will be announced and required to present at the Wilkes Summit at the University of Utah on the morning of May 17th
- Questions: Contact Ross Chambless (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Key considerations for each criteria:
- How much greenhouse gases (million tons CO2-equivalent) could be avoided from emissions or removed from the atmosphere per year in the immediate future (e.g. 2023-2025) and near-term future (e.g. around 2030)?
- What are the potentials for scaling up the proposed climate solution over the 2030-2050 timescale?
- How is the proposed climate solution innovative or transformative?
- Are there demonstrations of feasibility existing? At what stage? Where?
- If applicable to your solution, what is your plan to fund or finance the solution as you scale up?
- Explain why you or your team has the relevant expertise and structure to succeed.
- What are key barriers and what plans are in place to overcome barriers, constraints, risks, or trade-offs with scaling up the solution?
- Will the proposed solution lead to other benefits to communities, economies, or ecosystems? Examples benefits other than greenhouse gas reductions could include benefits to public health, biodiversity, air quality, etc. What is the potential for negative consequences (e.g. on vulnerable communities, economies, or ecosystems) and what are solutions to mitigate them?
If I win am I expected to actually implement my proposal?
The winning submissions should be feasible and have a concrete plan. Although we don’t currently have an expectation for a concrete deliverable after the award has been given the Wilkes Center team may be able to help connect the winners with resources to help them carry out their ideas.
Do I need to be enrolled at the University of Utah?
What are the formatting requirements?
Please see the logistics explanation on the main page. PDF, 4-5 pages (single spaced, minimum font size 12 and 1” margins. Figures should be in line with the text, and are considered part of the page limit while the bibliography is not part of the page limit).
How should a team submit their proposal?
If you are submitting as a team only one team member needs to upload the file for the team.
When will winners be announced?
By the end of the following week, Friday, April 28. The awarded teams will then need to present a 2-minute summary of their climate solution at the Wilkes Summit on May 17, 2023.
Post Award Requirements
The winning teams or individuals must meet with Wilkes Center staff for a brief interview and to take a photo. (This will be fun and easy, we promise!)
Is this award considered a scholarship or grant?
No, the award is a cash prize distributed directly to the winners.
Do I have to have a team to apply?
No, you do not have to be in a team to apply. You may submit your idea either as an individual or as a team.
How will the prize be dispersed if the winning submission is a team?
If a group of students win, the prize money will be evenly split between the members of the team.
Who do I contact for questions?
Contact Ross Chambless (email@example.com), the Wilkes Center Community Engagement Manager, and he will respond to you as soon as possible.