American-Made Challenges


Geothermal Collegiate Competition - Fall 2023

College students: Compete to solve real-world geothermal technical and policy challenges for a chance at thousands in DOE prize funding!

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Registration for the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition is closed in on October 4, 2023. All teams who wish to compete in either the Policy or Technical Track must have registered by this date.

If you are competing, make sure you have completed the registration form by clicking "Begin Entry":

  • Signing up as a team on HeroX is the first step, but the team captain must also click "Begin Entry" and complete the registration form to fully register. 
    • The registration form asks which track you want to participate in (policy vs technical), as well as team member names, emails, majors, school name, etc.
    • Email if you have questions.

Welcome to the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC)! Stay up to date on competition announcements and details by clicking the "follow" button at the top right of the page. 

  • Through the Geothermal Collegiate Competition, the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) encourages students to develop innovative solutions for geothermal energy application challenges and build career skills for the clean energy workforce. 
  • Fall 2023 GCC prize amounts:
    • 1st place, Technical Track: $10,000
    • 1st place, Policy Track: $10,000
    • 2nd place, Technical Track: $6,000
    • 2nd place, Policy Track: $6,000

Registration opened on August 1, 2023, and will close on October 4, 2023. Click "Solve This Challenge" and fill out the registration form to enter!

Teams must have at least three undergraduate and/or graduate members and students of any discipline can participate. Final competition deliverables will be due in December 2023.

New to the Fall 2023 GCC, there are now two competition tracks: Technical and Policy.

  • Technical Track teams present a technical plan for deploying a geothermal heating and cooling system for a proposed community or campus of their choosing, including a conceptual design of the needed geothermal system based on community needs, benefits, and available resources.
  • Policy Track teams present a high-level plan for installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in a community or campus, focused on an analysis of the regulatory environment and an assessment of economic considerations for the project.


Please review the official rules for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

Specifics to note:

  • This competition is open for undergraduate and/or graduate students pursuing any major or minor. GTO aims to raise awareness of geothermal resources among communities and the public through this competition, thereby broadening the geothermal stakeholder base.
  • The Geothermal Collegiate Competition invites participation by teams of at least three students enrolled in accredited U.S.-based collegiate institutions or U.S. citizens enrolled at non-U.S. based collegiate institutions. In this case, “collegiate institution” refers to any school of post-secondary or higher education, including but not limited to community colleges, technical colleges, and traditional four-year and graduate-level universities. See “Who Can Enter” in the Geothermal Collegiate Competition Rules for more information on eligibility. 
  • There is no cost to register or participate.
  • Additional details are available on the Geothermal Collegiate Competition webpage.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please use the "Follow" feature on this HeroX platform or message us directly at .


Challenge Updates

Important GCC FAQs

Nov. 16, 2023, 10:34 a.m. PST by GCC Prize Moderator

Thanks to everyone who sent an optional progress submission! For those that submitted, feedback was sent to team captains on November 8.

Based on the submissions and recent questions to the inbox, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers.


Important Reminders:

  • Make sure to check the Rules for the final submission to ensure you meet all the deliverable requirements. 
  • Keep page limits in mind—judges will not review any pages beyond the stated page limit.
  • Is your team listed in the participating teams announcement? If not, double check with that you are fully registered.


FAQs—Both Tracks

What advice can organizers share regarding site selection?

  • Make sure to share why you chose your specific site.
  • Check that you are including all the elements of site selection listed in the Rules, particularly identifying existing infrastructure and the geothermal resource available.

Can you share more advice on the stakeholder engagement event and planning?

  • Make sure you are clear on relevant roles or types of stakeholders and how/why they would be involved with your project.
    • Specify the most relevant stakeholders (versus providing a laundry list of anyone who might be tangentially related).
    • Consider how your messaging or outreach might need to change based on the stakeholder group.
    • Your stakeholder engagement plan and messaging should tie to your specific project.
  • The visual of a Stakeholder Engagement Map in the appendix is meant as a guide; you can visualize your stakeholder map in another way, as long as the stakeholders relevant to your project are identified.
    • The requirements listed in the deliverables table should be your north star. 
  • Try to be precise about the logistics of engaging stakeholders. How would your strategy and your event plan actually be implemented? 
    • For the event, think through where it would be, when, who you would invite, how long it would last, how would you get people to come, whether there would be an educational component, how would the event relate to your project, etc. 

Where can we find competition resources?

  • The HeroX Resources tab has a wealth of information, including recorded webinars on community engagement, Leapfrog modeling, etc. 
  • Appendix C of the GCC Rules links to case studies of geothermal district heating and cooling systems. Consider referencing existing systems to help with your design by finding an example that is the size of your project area.


Technical Track FAQs:

Can you clarify the scope of the system design for this competition?

  • In this edition of the GCC, the only mandatory requirement for system design is to propose a geothermal district heating and cooling system. 
    • The system can be designed with geothermal heat pumps, deep/shallow wells, oil and gas well retrofit or repurpose, hot spring or known aquifers, etc., depending on the geothermal resource at the selected site. 
    • Additional technology could also be incorporated if the system’s primary design is based on a geothermal district heating and cooling system.
  • Include a description of why the site is capable of conversion to a geothermal district heating and cooling system, why the resource is adequate for the selected site, and the end use.
    • Include number of wells, temperature, required flow rate, and available/required infrastructure, if applicable.
    • Capture an overview of the current energy demands, including the demand curve of the energy consumption of the facilities, if available.


Policy Track FAQs:

What advice can you share about tackling permitting requirements and financial incentives?

  • Consider all levels of permitting requirements and financial incentives across the local, state, and federal levels. 
    • Feel free to point out where requirements or incentives do not work together seamlessly across levels of government or where there is synergy.
    • Not sure where to start researching requirements? Check out the RAPID Toolkit (Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit).
      • The RAPID Toolkit offers a solution to navigating the complex system of federal and state regulations necessary to secure project approval. The RAPID Toolkit provides easy access to federal and state permitting information, best practices, and reference material for renewable energy and bulk transmission project development.
  • Make sure to consider financial incentives available when listing your project cost breakdown. 

GCC Participating Teams Announced!

Nov. 13, 2023, 1:42 p.m. PST by GCC Prize Moderator

The 33 teams participating in the Fall GCC have been made public! Check out the announcement and the interactive map

Double check that your team is listed—we have had a few issues with teams thinking they are registered but they did not actually submit the registration form through HeroX. Without a registration form teams will not be eligible to compete or submit a final deliverable as Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC) organizers do not know which track you have chosen, team contact emails, and other critical information needed for the competition. Not sure if your team is fully registered? Email 

Welcome to the 33 teams from 25 collegiate institutions! We can’t wait to see your geothermal solutions. 


Optional Progress Submissions Due October 25

Oct. 20, 2023, 10:47 a.m. PDT by GCC Prize Moderator

As a reminder, optional progress submissions are due on Wednesday, October 25 at 11:59 p.m. MDT for the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition. 

Only one submission is needed per team. Click "My Entries" and select the form that corresponds to your track (Policy vs Technical).

If you elect to submit, reviewers will return general suggestions to your team by November 8, 2023. Progress submission deliverable details can be found in the Rules

Questions? Email

New Resources Available for GCC Teams!

Sept. 29, 2023, 9:25 a.m. PDT by GCC Prize Moderator

New resources for the Geothermal Collegiate Competition have been added to the Resources tab on HeroX

The resources include: 

  • Technical Track: 
    • Free student licenses for Leapfrog Geo 3D modeling software are now available for GCC participants! 
      • To receive a license, email with your name, email address, and team name/school. 
      • A recording of a Leapfrog tutorial webinar is also available. 
      • Thank you to Seequent for donating the licenses for student participants. Please see a message from Seequent below: 
        • Thank you for registering for the Geothermal Collegiate Competition. Seequent, the Bentley Subsurface Company, will grant you a personal, non-transferable, non-exclusive license to access and use its software for the purposes of the competition. You must not use the software for any commercial purposes. By accessing and using the software, you agree to the User Terms (  Any information you provide will be managed and used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. 
  • Policy Track: 
    • A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was just released that is especially pertinent for policy teams. 

One Week Left to Register for the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition!

Sept. 27, 2023, 11:28 a.m. PDT by GCC Prize Moderator

Registration for the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition is closing in one week on October 4 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. All teams who wish to compete in either the Policy or Technical Track must register by this date.

Make sure you have completed the registration form by clicking "Begin Entry":

  • Signing up as a team on HeroX is the first step, but the team captain must also click "Begin Entry" and complete the registration form to fully register. 
    • The registration form asks which track you want to participate in (policy vs technical), as well as team member names, emails, majors, school name, etc.

Email with any questions!