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CEWD is pleased to announce the 2021 STEM Innovation Challenge.

The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), energy companies, and high school education partners are joining together to help energize the next-generation energy workforce through the STEM VIRTUAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE!

The 2021 STEM Virtual Innovation Challenge is designed to help high school students learn about careers in energy and its connections to STEM and other business disciplines. The Virtual Challenge will run from February 1, 2021 – April 15, 2021.


  • Build student awareness of the many careers in energy;
  • Provide authentic experiences through solving problems that are important to the industry;
  • Link to academically rigorous science and mathematics requirements and address important student learning outcomes;
  • Allow students to apply technical knowledge and skills through assessing information, testing hypotheses, and problem solving;
  • Obtain project management experience relevant across industries, including teamwork, developing solutions, and presenting results orally or in writing.

The Challenge: Students today want to solve problems that are meaningful and relevant to themselves, their families, and their local communities. They want to feel that they can make a difference. The predicated problem to solve is: When thinking of efficiency and sustainability as it relates to your school and transportation to and from, develop an innovative plan to reduce your school’s carbon footprint, increase comfort conditions, and have a net-zero impact to your community.

Student Teams: Students eligible to participate will be determined by school staff / leadership. Students enrolled in STEM, business, and/or related coursework are encouraged to participate. Each school is allowed up to two 8-10-person student teams.

Mentorship Matching*: – Industry partners will serve as competition mentors for schools in their region during the semester-long Challenge. Student teams will present their solutions on April 1st on a regional level and winners from each region: North, South, East, and West will be invited to National Shark Tank Competition on April 15th designed to recognize student achievement and industry collaboration.

Industry Mentors:  Industry partners will assign a staff member(s) to serve as the point of contact and industry mentor(s). The number of mentors may be determined by the industry partner.

  • RECOMMENDATION: 1 team lead per high school and 2-3 employees per school serving as industry mentors.
  • An application for each school must be completed and signed by industry partner.

High School / Industry Partner Communication:  Participating teachers will coordinate virtual connections and email correspondence between the student teams and their industry mentors. Frequency of virtual visits and email communications to be determined by teacher and mentors.

*What do I do if I do not have an industry partner: We encourage you to participate even if you do not have an industry partner. We can work to put you in touch with your local energy utility, but it is not a pre-requisite for the competition. Schools will be required to submit a completed application in order to compete.

2021 Challenge Timeline:

  • October 2020– The 2021 STEM Innovation Challenge is announced.
  • February 2021 – Student challenge begins with virtual video kickoff that addresses the parameters of the Challenge.
  • February  – April 2021 – Industry mentors engage virtually with student teams and potentially through classroom and industry visits and teacher coordinated email correspondence. Frequency of visits and email communications to be determined by teacher and mentors.
  • April 2021 – Student teams deliver virtual presentations to industry partner judges in “Shark Tank Competition”.

*If you do not have a point of contact at your local energy utility company please contact Julie Strzempko, julie@cewd.org

2021 Stem Innovation Challenge Application

Videos may only be submitted with the approval of each participant’s parent or legal guardian who, in authorizing the submission, gives their consent to CEWD to use the video in connection with the CEWD STEM VIRTUAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE. By uploading your video on YouTube for consideration of the CEWD STEM VIRTUAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE , you agree that: 1. You have read, understand, and will comply with all of YouTube’s privacy policies and terms and conditions; 2. You will not include any illegal, obscene, or unauthorized material copyrighted by any third party in the video; 3. You grant a license to CEWD to use the video for the CEWD STEM VIRTUAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE 4. CEWD will not gain any ownership or intellectual property right in any video, with the exception of item 3 above.
  • Energy Companies: If your company is sponsoring more than one team, please complete an application for each school that you will be sponsoring.