Stanford students participated in the university’s first ever clean energy-focused hackathon from April 12 – 14. Students had 24 hours to design solutions for challenge areas posed by sponsors of the event, which included Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Google, Total and the Renewable Natural Gas Coalition.
“It was incredibly inspiring to observe the students’ passion for making an impact in addressing climate change, and to see all the great ideas that crystallized from just a short 24-hour time period,” says Dr. Aimee Gotway Bailey, Director of Decarbonization and Grid Innovation at SVCE.
SVCE challenged students to develop solutions towards improving information and awareness of all-electric building design and addressing barriers to electrifying single-family homes. While natural gas use in buildings contributes to roughly a third of our region’s emissions, public attention is low and emissions from buildings receive less focus in state planning.
After 24 hours of hacking, the teams pitched their ideas and each sponsor chose the winning team for their challenge area. The winning team of SVCE’s challenge, aptly named the Home Team, was also selected to win the overall grand prize by an independent panel of judges.
The solution they offered focused on partnering with solar providers to add electrification options to their product offerings. These offerings would also integrate with the Internet of Things to optimize electricity usage and provide grid services while allowing the household to easily manage their utility bill.
The team won over the judges with their creative use of storytelling in their pitch, which involved the character Walt-E, an electric heat pump water heater, who needed to find his way into local homes in order to solve climate change. The winning students were excited to participate in a challenge that was not solely focused on computer science. Their interdisciplinary backgrounds helped them solve a problem that inherently requires creativity in a variety of subject areas.
As local decarbonization programs move forward, SVCE is excited to continue incorporating innovative ideas from our local community.
For more on the Cleantech Challenge, check out a full recap of the event from Stanford.