Fresno State’s Water, Energy and Technology Center hosts decarbonization challenge for $6,000 prize


Wyatt Bible/The Collegian

The WET Center hosts the ‘Destination Decarbonization Challenge’ in which undergraduate students can compete for a $6,000 prize.

By Jazmin Alvarado, Reporter

A group of undergraduate students is participating in the first decarbonization challenge at Fresno State for a chance at $6,000.

According to its website, the Destination Decarbonization Challenge is a research-based competition designed to get more college students involved in the energy industry to solve issues surrounding carbon emissions.

The competition is presented by the Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center and will offer a $6,000 prize to the winner.

“The $6,000 prize goes straight to the student group. This significant sum can be used for academics, continuing research, developing the idea [or] whatever the students would like,” said Carlson Herbert, a coordinator for BovControl, in an interview with The Collegian.

Herbert is partnering with the group of Fresno State students as a graduate student mentor.

The WET Center is an organization located at Fresno State, whose mission is “to support water, energy and ag-tech innovators and entrepreneurs on their path to commercialization through training, coaching and networking,” according to its website.

Destination Decarbonization will involve groups of two to four students who will work together to create a plan for a solution to increase decarbonization rates.

Their proposed plans can either focus on reducing carbon emission rates or focus on capturing carbon emissions and finding ways they can be reused for beneficial purposes.

“Accelerating decarbonization and reducing climate change is a large global issue. However, we think that the most impactful change begins at the local level with students who are, in our opinion, future leaders of climate change for many years to come,” said Samuel Fairbanks, a community engagement and outreach specialist at the WET Center.

Fairbanks believes the competition is a great way for students to enter their career path with hands-on experience.

“This kind of hands-on learning project enhances the student-learning experience and sets them up for success past graduation. Plus, it gets them involved in an industry that peaks their long-term career interests,” Fairbanks told The Collegian.

Gurmannat Chalotra, a leader for one of the student groups, said she wanted to join the competition because she has been involved in similar projects before and knew this would be another great opportunity.

“This project has definitely shown us the influence that undergraduate students can have when considering local climate issues. The Central Valley is a major region in need of unique climate solutions and propositions. We hope to be a part of that effort in the near future,” Chalotra said.

Finalists will be announced after Tuesday, March 28, and pitch day will be on April 21.

Pitch day will be in the East Banquet Hall at 3:30 p.m., where the finalists will present their plan and then winners will be chosen.