Competitions, Challenges, and Industry Prizes

Join a competition to expand your knowledge and share your skills in the development and commercialization of advanced energy technologies. Competitions, prizes, and similar contests support the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs.

Learn more about events NREL administers on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

NREL-Sponsored Competitions

NREL's model car competition is a classroom-based, hands-on educational program for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. Student teams apply math, science, and creativity to construct and race solar- and battery-powered model cars.

NREL sponsors the annual Colorado Regional High School Science Bowl, in which teams are quizzed on math and science topics. The winning team receives an opportunity to compete for the national title in Washington, D.C.

American-Made Challenges

American-Made Challenges logo

The American-Made program is your fast track to the clean energy revolution. Funded by DOE, the program incentivizes innovation through prizes, collegiate competitions, training, teaming, and mentoring, connecting the nation's entrepreneurs and innovators to America's national labs and the private sector.

View open challenges and competitions.

Other Student Competitions

The AlgaePrize challenges competitors to expand novel solutions to algae production, processing, and new product development to lower the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts on the way to large-scale algae commercialization.

Participants: High school and college students

Administered by: DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office with support from NREL and the Algae Foundation

The Collegiate Wind Competition helps college students prepare for jobs in the wind and renewable energy workforce through real-world experiences with wind energy technology, project development, finance, communications, and outreach.

Participants: Undergraduate college students (Graduate students may be involved as mentors or advisers.)

Administered by: NREL with funding from DOE's Wind Energy Technologies Office

Using critical-infrastructure-focused, real-world scenarios, the CyberForce Competition challenges students to protect imagined businesses from simulated cyberattacks and helps participants improve their understanding of cyber-physical threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences.

Participants: College students

Administered by: DOE's Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response and Argonne National Laboratory, with support from NREL, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition engages students to develop innovative geothermal energy applications while fostering an understanding of geothermal energy, communicating the benefits of geothermal technologies, and helping overcome nontechnical barriers to geothermal development.

Administered by: DOE and NREL

The Hydropower Collegiate Competition calls on interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of academic programs to offer unique solutions to complex hydropower challenges.

Participants: Undergraduate and graduate students

Administered by: NREL and Hydropower Foundation with funding from DOE's Water Power Technologies Office

JUMP (Join the discussion, Unveil innovation, Make connections, Promote tech-to-market) into STEM is an online competition that seeks to inspire the next generation of building scientists, focusing on advancing skills, encouraging creative ideation and diversity, and promoting early-stage research in building energy efficiency.

Participants: College students

Administered by: DOE's Building Technologies Office, with support from NREL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Marine Energy Collegiate Competition challenges students to offer unique solutions to the burgeoning marine energy industry and offers real-world experience and industry connections to help students prepare for future careers in the marine energy sector and the blue economy.

Participants: Undergraduate and graduate students

Administered by: NREL with funding from DOE's Water Power Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and build high-performance, low-carbon buildings via two tracks: an annual Design Challenge and a biennial Build Challenge.

Participants: College students

The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams across the engineering, urban planning, and finance disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district and design and model optimized distributed solar energy systems for a campus or urban district.

Participants: College students

Administered by: DOE and NREL, with funding from DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Office