Energy Department Selects UT Austin Students as Finalists in National Geothermal Energy Competition

Geothermal Student Team
National Geothermal Energy Student Competition Team (L-R): Suzanne Pierce (faculty adviser), Matthew Uddenberg, Reed Malin, Daniel Noll. Not pictured: Katherine Markovich.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected a team of four students from The University of Texas at Austin to compete against seven other university teams in the 2012 National Geothermal Energy Student Competition.

Three geothermal industry experts selected the winning proposals from a pool of national candidates. The DOE is awarding $10,000 in technical assistance to each student team to carry out their selected proposals.

This student competition challenges teams at universities across the country to conduct research in geology, geoscience, engineering, and chemical and bio-molecular energy that could lead to breakthroughs in geothermal energy development. Student teams will analyze the economic feasibility of developing clean, renewable geothermal energy in Snake River Plain, Idaho.

The UT Austin team includes three graduate students in the Energy and Earth Resources (EER) program—Reed Malin, Daniel Noll, and Matthew Uddenberg—as well as undergraduate Katherine Markovich in the geoscience honors program in the Jackson School of Geosciences. Suzanne Pierce, research assistant professor in EER, is the team’s faculty adviser.

The UT Austin student team will focus on producing a target map for use by potential geothermal developers. The team will produce a decision-analysis model that evaluates geological setting, proximity to infrastructure, and the economic feasibility of geothermal development of the Snake River Plain.

Three winning teams will be announced in August.

A 2006 study conducted by M.I.T. identified Snake River Valley as one of six potential areas in the U.S. for near-term geothermal development.

Through the competition, the DOE seeks to advance geothermal education and spark interest in geothermal careers by providing a forum for hands-on learning. In addition, some of the data and analysis resulting from the competition may be valuable to industry and the development of new geothermal sites.

The EER graduate program provides the opportunity for students to prepare themselves in management, finance, economics, law and policy leading to careers in energy, mineral, water, and environmental resources. The highly multi-disciplinary program is housed in the Jackson School of Geosciences.

Also See:

DOE Press Announcement, May 8, 2012

ORISE (Oak Ridge Inst. for Science and Education) Press Announcement

UT Austin Team Proposal