Imagining Energy Futures

Science, art, and design competition open to undergraduates at all levels across all colleges 

Solar panel and McGraw Tower

What might the world look like, and be like, after fossil fuels?

Emerging scientists, artists, engineers, and designers are invited to collaborate in teams across disciplines. You will create projects that help us imagine sustainable energy futures in the real world.

Winners will receive cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100, and their work will be shown, heard, or performed in a public exhibition. Small grants are available for material and production costs. 

The competition is co-sponsored by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future's Academic Venture Fund. 

Submissions to the competition are invited in the following categories:

  • Creative Writing
  • Photography
  • Video, Web, and New Media
  • Sound
  • Painting/ Drawing/ Printmaking
  • Design/Architecture/Models
  • Performance


October 1, 2016: Fall Funding Requests

February 15, 2017: Spring Funding Requests

March 15, 2017: Project Submission

For more information, email Carolina Osorio Gil with the subject line "Energy Futures"

Visit the project's Facebook page 

Enter the competition and apply for funding



What is the competition about? In thinking about, modeling, and designing a future beyond fossil fuels, imagination plays a huge role. Increasingly, it is becoming evident to scientists, engineers, planners, and policymakers that technological solutions need to be combined with broad visions of cultural and social change as well as astute design thinking in order to envision and eventually make real a world powered by renewable energy. This competition aims to put such insights into practice by tapping the potential of collaborative work among students from diverse disciplines. How might emerging writers, artists, scientists, engineers, architects, and designers come together with their diverse knowledge and skills, and produce a credible vision of an energy-sustainable future that would inspire thought and effect change?

What is the aim of the competition? Future thinking is done most effectively through storytelling and modeling through a wide range of media and forms. The aim of the competition, correspondingly, is not just to promote dynamic, innovative visions of how we might be able to transition beyond fossil fuels in the future, but also to take those visions into public spaces and encourage spontaneous interactions with your work. Thus the competition will culminate with physical exhibitions at various Cornell locations, where a wide range of students, faculty, staff, and visitors circulate on a daily basis. The projects will also be available through a publicly accessible web platform that anyone can experience from around the world.

Cash prizes will be awarded in various categories of work submitted to the competition.

Who can participate? The competition is open to undergraduate students at any level in any college or major at Cornell, working in teams of two or more.

What will teams look like? Each team must represent at least two distinct disciplines, e.g. Engineering and History, Human Ecology and Sociology, Creative Writing and Computer Science, Biology and City Planning, Environmental Science and Economics -- the possibilities are endless. The entry form provides space for a primary contact person as well as all collaborators on the project.

What form will the project take? Your team may submit a project in any one of the following categories: creative writing; model/design/plan; photography; sound; video/new media/web; painting/ drawing/ printmaking; and performance.

How do we enter? To enter your team for the competition, fill out the title, description, and participant details in the online entry form. This form enables you to a) enter the competition, b) apply for support for your project, if you need it, and c) submit your entry. You will be able to save and edit this information until the final submission deadline of March 15, 2017.

Is funding available for completing the project, and how do I access it? Yes, a limited amount of small grants are available for supporting material, equipment, and infrastructure for projects. If you are applying for support, please check the appropriate box on the entry form and provide a short justification in the space provided. If you do not receive support, you may still submit a project.

Please note that the deadline for applying for support in the fall is October 1, 2016, and in the spring is February 15, 2017.

Where do we submit our project, and how? If your project is digital or web-based (writing, photography, video or new media, sound, etc.), submit it through the entry form online. Acceptable formats are pdf, mp3, jpg, png, and mp4. 

Physical objects such as paintings, collages, models, etc. should be photographed or videographed and a digital file submitted online via the entry form. Please check this space for details of where to submit physical objects for judging and exhibition.

Performances should be recorded and the video file transmitted to the address specified on the form.

What rights do we grant Cornell when we submit our work? On the application, you will need to click a box confirming that you agree to the following terms: "I confirm that I am the creator of the art submitted and own all copyrights to it; and that I grant Cornell University and its affiliated programs unrestricted permission, without payment, to exhibit and/or publish my art, in any or all media, for use in any editorial or educational communication about the activities of Cornell University."

All projects must be submitted by March 15, 2017

For more information, email Carolina Osorio Gil with the subject line "Energy Futures"

Visit the project's Facebook page 

Enter the competition and apply for funding