MIT Clean Energy Prize announces Rutgers fellows for 2014-2015


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently opened its Clean Energy Prize competition to students around the nation, said Andres Potes, an MBA candidate at MIT.

The CEP is a student run business plan competition facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship in addressing the world’s energy challenge, said Potes, the Community Coordinator in the CEP competition.

“The competition is divided into three tracks: renewable energy, energy efficiency and infrastructure,” Potes said. 

Each year, about 20 teams enter the semi-finals of more than 100 teams that apply, he said. 

A mentor assigned to each team will help students refine their ideas, he said. Each track will come up with a winner who is awarded $25,000. 

Three winning teams will present their business plan to the public on May 8, he said. A grand prize of $225,000 will be awarded.

The program enables organizers to reach out to universities throughout the country, he said. Student leaders in each university serve as campus representatives for the competition, recruiting and coordinating their teams. 

Fellows are granted funds and materials to galvanize entrepreneurship on campus, he said.

“Clean energy involves a lot of aspects, including technical problems, market [and] public policy,” he said. “With two fellows in Rutgers, we can have a better outreach to the university’s resources and a better coordination among them all.”

Rutgers’ fellows for the 2014-2015 academic year are Matthew Purri, a sophomore in the School of Engineering, and Brian Chittum, a School of Engineering junior.

Fellows are selected based on their experiences with clean energy entrepreneurship and the enthusiasm they bring to the current program, Potes said.

Chittum entered the program based on his experience with bio-digesters. He previously worked with organic waste at the University.

“The competition applies to me because of my major … I’m interested in clean energy and renewable energy, especially alternative fuel sources for cars,” he said.

Purri and Chittum hope to encourage team participation by reaching out to faculties and students in different departments and organizations, Purri said. They hope to work with the Rutgers Energy Institute to hold events and find panelists to discuss ideas.

Besides holding events and helping with logistics, Chittum hopes to facilitate new ideas through collaboration between interested parties.

Universities are at the forefront of innovative solutions to global issues, Potes said. The hope is that the CEP will incentivize students into forming new technologies that will eventually be used in everyday life.

“A university like Rutgers definitely needs to be in the conversation in today’s movement towards clean energy,” Chittum said. “The more I learn about the Clean Energy Prize competition, the more I realize that it is a catalyst for energy innovation and a platform to show our great ideas.”


Weini Zhang

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