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Green Competition Looks for Urban Energy Conservation Ideas

A new international competition challenges college students--and particularly women--to come up with creative ways to save energy in five different sectors of city environments. Many participants will receive interviews for internships, and 25 pairs of finalists will be flown to Paris in June 2011 by contest sponsor Schneider Electric to vie in person. The people on the winning team will receive job offers and travel the world "VIP style" with the company, visiting facilities and networking with management and staff.

The competition is fairly simple on the face of it. "Go Green in the City" calls on business and engineering students in eight countries to provide an idea for intelligent energy management in one of five categories: home, university, retail, water, and hospital. Participating countries include the United States, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, and Turkey. All are ranked among the top 25 producers for greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2005 report from the World Resources Institute.

In a unique requirement, the company is asking participants to team up in pairs and to make sure at least one person is female. As the rules explain, "Schneider Electric is looking to integrate women's views and perspectives on how to shape tomorrow's green initiatives."

In the first round, which closed last week, applicants needed to send in a creative presentation--a one-minute video or two pages of textual or image content--that states objectives and ideas for a solution to the world's energy problems. From those entries, the company will select 100 teams to present a short synopsis of the business case for the idea. That phase takes place in April. Then 25 teams will be selected from those candidates to compete in the two-day final competition in Paris, from which the final winning team will be chosen.

"With Go Green in the City, Schneider Electric aims to promote a new kind of case competition for students," said Karen Ferguson, executive vice president of Schneider Electric's Global Human Resources organization. "We have moved away from the typical pre-written case, and we are focusing more on creativity and solutions to environmental and logistical issues, because helping individuals and organizations make the most of their energy is central to [our] daily business."

The company said it currently plans to run the competition for three years.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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