Carnegie Mellon University

ESTP and Heinz Students Placed Third at Columbia’s Competition

March 10, 2020

ESTP and Heinz Master's Students Place Third at Columbia’s 2020 Energy Case Competition

Amanda King

On Feb. 20, four master's students from the Energy Science, Technology, and Policy (ESTP) and Heinz programs at Carnegie Mellon University were awarded third place at Columbia University’s Energy Case Competition 2020. The team took home a $500 cash prize.

The students prepared for and presented their solutions in two stages spanning almost a month. The first stage was a preliminary round where they were presented with a ‘mini’ case to devise a blueprint for installing and operating a 350 MW offshore wind farm in New York. The Carnegie Mellon team, which consisted of Clare Callahan, Smriti Sharma, Vinita Srinivasan, and Parth Thakar, was one of six teams selected to advance to the next round.

The final case was much more involved—it asked teams to come up with a plan for a 1 GW energy portfolio consisting of offshore wind turbines, gas turbines and battery technologies. Leveraging their interdisciplinary backgrounds, the CMU students broke down the complexities into technical considerations, financial modeling, portfolio optimization and policy impacts.

They sourced their energy data from multiple reports and models from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Siemens and GE. Blending this with their technical insights, the team devised an optimal portfolio by prioritizing both production cost and emission reductions. This catalyzed the team to develop an innovative solution of a sea-float technology for gas turbines to meet 40 percent of the 1 GW demand. 

“CMU’s solution of the sea-float was very smart and innovative. It is what distinguished their proposal from others,” said one judge after the results were announced. 

After the final presentation, other teams and judges said they were excited to talk with the CMU team about their proposal and share their excitement for the team’s victory. 

The team's participation in the Energy Case Competition was supported by the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.