One of the formative moments in my career was participating in an Energy Department competition called FutureCar — known today as EcoCAR 3 — which challenges students to develop more fuel efficient and sustainable vehicles. Participating in that competition inspired me to pursue a career that addressed the toughest problems in sustainable transportation and clean energy. I’m just one of many who had their professional journeys changed as a result of these competitions.
I hope that will also be true of the outstanding young innovators I had the pleasure of meeting at this year’s Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) National Competition, held at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Launched in 2015, Cleantech UP supports student entrepreneurs nationwide by funding eight regional competitions, primarily hosted by universities. Teams compete for a minimum of $50,000 in funding and services to further support the commercialization of their technologies. The competition is a lot like the hit show Shark Tank — students pitch to a panel of experts, explaining why their idea is feasible and how it can make a positive impact. The top three teams from each of the regional competitions are then invited to compete at the national competition for an additional $100,000 in prizes. The national event also provides competitors with professional development and networking opportunities with leading clean energy leaders from around the country.
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