Energy + Contest Guidelines

2017 Theme: Energy + Emissions

Student Challenge: Create a tangible visualization of the amount of carbon emissions created by the University of Michigan in the year 2016: 641,000 metric tons, or 1,413,161,420 pounds, of carbon dioxide. This represents approximately 30% of Ann Arbor’s total emissions footprint. (For more detail about U-M’s GHG emissions, see this report.)

Sponsors: The Energy + competition received generous support from DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, and the Anthropocene Institute.

Background information: The America of 120 years ago made its transportation and manufacturing emissions starkly visible. Communities around New England factories saw, smelled and breathed the byproducts of the energy consumption around them. In New York City, horses produced 2.5 million pounds of horse manure and 200,000 liters of urine a day. The resultant health and safety hazards galvanized residents and city planners into holding some of the first modern environmental conferences, though the invention of the automobile quickly and effectively solved the problem— and then cars created problems of their own. Prior to the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970, cities were choked by smog levels that today we associate with urban areas in developing countries.

At the University of Michigan, the energy used to keep the lights on and the buses running goes largely unseen. This Energy + challenge, using the Duderstadt Center gallery or the North Campus quad, aims to make the university’s emissions visible to those who contribute to them directly or indirectly.

The Project: Each student team will receive a fact sheet, drawn from U-M’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report, containing details about the University of Michigan’s emissions footprint. Students may use any medium to create their emissions experience- visual, audio, spatial, etc. The technology team at Duderstadt will make resources available for use in the contest, including recording and video studios, large-format video recording, the virtual reality laboratory, the Michigan immersive digital experience nexus, several maker spaces, 3D printing resources, etc. A full list of available Duderstadt Media Commons resources is available here. Funding for supplies and other needed resources will be made available by request.

Prize: The prize money available to context winners will total $15,000, split among a winning team and two runners-up. First prize is $7,500, second prize is $5,000, and third prize is $2,500.

Contest dates:

Spring 2017: Contest Announcement

Late September 2017: Project signup window closes

Week of December 4: Project entries displayed and judged

Contest requirements:

Contest teams may consist of any number of students. Both undergraduates and graduate students who will be enrolled at U-M during the Fall 2017 semester may participate. Depending on the nature of the team project, teams may be paired with a mentor from Duderstadt Media Commons. At least one member of each team must tour the Media Commons before the project period begins.


This contest is organized by the University of Michigan Energy Institute in partnership with the Duderstadt Media Commons.

About Energy +

The Energy + Challenge is organized by the University of Michigan Energy Institute and is open to students of any academic discipline. The Challenge seeks to demonstrate to students the interconnectedness of energy with the built environment, the climate, and the centrality of energy in society. This year’s theme is pegged to the launch of our Beyond Carbon Neutral project; learn more at