Geology graduate student Fidelis Onwuagba and his team, EnerGreen,
Kansas State University Department of Geology graduate student, Fidelis Onwuagba, and his team won the Switch International Energy Case Competition, an annual competition organized by the Switch Energy Alliance (SEA), an Austin-based non-profit organization devoted to “inspiring an energy-educated, objective, nonpartisan, and sensible future.” The mission of the Switch International Energy Case Competition is to engage students in holding informed conversations, inspire competitors to broaden their perspective about the global energy situation, and develop an actionable plan aimed at creating a brighter future for everyone.
This year’s competition featured over 180 teams from 27 countries across the globe. The preliminary round saw 88 submissions, of which the top 5 teams advanced to the finals. The finalists were invited to present their solutions to a live audience while entertaining questions from the panel of judges via Zoom. The teams were required to analyze and compare factors contributing to energy poverty in different counties, including accessibility, environmental impact, quality and reliability of services, affordability, safety, and security.
Onwuagba’s team, which consisted of members from both the U.S. and Nigeria, were praised by the judges for their critical thinking and innovative techniques. Their plan focused on (i) conducting a comparative energy analysis of the energy landscapes in Kenya and Bangladesh, (ii) proposing a 10-year plan for Kenya, and (iii) evaluating the feasibility of transferring the 10-year plan to Bangladesh.
When asked about his motivation for participating in the competition, Onwuagba said, “Energy poverty is a global concern, particularly in emerging and developing countries such as my home country [Nigeria]. The urgent need to address this issue motivated the team to devote ourselves to utilizing all of the resources at our disposal in order to ensure the successful completion of the project. We leveraged this competition to practically apply our knowledge, skills, and creativity to propose innovative solutions to tackle real-world problems in the energy sector, and I am glad that we came up with a solution that has the potential to contribute to sustainable practices, environmental conservation, and the advancement of clean energy technologies. I also gained valuable insight into the complexity of the energy industry, learning about policies and sustainable practices. I witnessed the importance of teamwork through collaboration with my teammates despite challenges with timing, as I was in a time zone 7 hours behind the rest of my team members. The diversity in our educational backgrounds also reflected the interdisciplinary nature required to address energy challenges, and participating in this international competition provided me with a platform to enhance my problem-solving, presentation, and communication skills, which are crucial for my professional development.”
Onwuagba also plans to encourage other young people to get involved in the future—to “think globally while acting locally.” He also hopes that educators will incorporate more discussion of energy issues in their curricula, highlighting the value of sustainability and the preservation of the environment. “Addressing the global effect of energy concerns demands a multifaceted strategy, and every effort, no matter how little, has the potential to make a significant difference.”
For more information about the Switch International Energy Case Competition, visit https://switchon.org/case-competition
For more information about Switch Energy Alliance (SEA), visit https://switchon.org/