University of Wisconsin students will have the chance to compete for climate change in the university’s Climate Change Solutions Initiative, which begins Friday.

Over the course of the competition, teams of students will attempt to find new tools to mitigate climate change or find new ways to adapt to it, according to a university statement. The UW Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Global Health Institute, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Energy Institute will lead the competition.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues we will face in the decades to come,” Director of Sustainability Research and Education for the Office of Sustainability Craig Benson said in a university statement. “At UW-Madison, we have the opportunity to address this head on by harnessing our intellectual capacity and creativity to create solutions with real impact.”

The first event in the challenge will be a two-hour mixer, beginning at 4 p.m. Friday at Town Center Atrium at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Students can get involved by creating a team and attending different events in the challenge.

Free to the public, the kick-off event will include appetizers, an introductory program and networking opportunities to swap ideas and meet potential collaborators.

The competition will continue throughout the year, with events that encourage team building and explore “design-thinking.” Teams will present their final ideas to a review board in late September, Project Leader Darin Harris said. He said winning teams will have the chance to set their plans into motion by receiving grants.

“Unlike many traditional research projects, this initiative focuses
on applications and driving large-scale adoption,” Harris said. “Interdisciplinary teams from across UW-Madison and the community will harness cross-cutting research, thinking and action to create tangible solutions in the form of policies, new products or social innovations.”

Check out a rough calendar of events below, provided by Harris:

April 4 Mixer: Bring an idea and meet a diverse group of people
June 12 Solutions Workshop: Form a team and learn tools for innovative
August 25 Summer Concept Development: Package idea into concept paper
Late September Panel Presentation: Present concept to Board
October to November Proposal Development: Write full proposal for designing, testing and proving concept
December Final Awards: Top teams will receive resources to put ideas into practice

[Photo by FlyingSinger/Flickr]