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Bill Hays's picture
Director of Operations, Switch Energy Alliance

I am the Director of Operations for Switch Energy Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. SEA is dedicated to its mission to inspire an energy-educated future. We are globally recognized for being...

  • Member since 2019
  • 2 items added with 2,958 views
  • Sep 28, 2020

Have you ever put yourself in the shoes of the 2.5 billion people worldwide who have little or no access to reliable, affordable energy?

Lack of energy means lack of basic necessities such as food, water, health care, and education. But lack of energy also means lack of progress on empowerment of women, mass migrations, political corruption, and fighting pandemics.

We know the impact of energy poverty. Now comes the hard part.

How does the world transition to a sustainable, equitable energy future, while helping to bring the benefits of modern life to those who live without reliable, affordable energy?

That is the question the non-profit Switch Energy Alliance is highlighting in its new documentary Switch On and through the International Switch Energy Case Competition, open to university students throughout the world.

SEA is seeking energy professionals to act as virtual mentors during the Case Competition. Only 30 minutes per week over a three week period are needed from the mentors.

Overview of the Competition:

  • Self-formed teams of 3-4 university students compete for cash prizes from a pool of $10,000 as they develop solutions to an interdisciplinary energy poverty-based prompt.
  • Teams have three weeks to research the issue, create a PowerPoint, and film a 10-minute video explaining their solution. The PowerPoint and video are submitted to SEA and then reviewed by judges.
  • The top five teams advance to the Finals where they virtually compete via a live video conference format shown throughout the world.
  • The global student response has been remarkable. So far 80 teams from 15 countries representing all inhabited continents have signed up.

Mentors: The Case Competition is seeking energy professionals to remotely act as mentors for the teams.

  • Energy professionals from all energy fields, countries and organizations (business, academic, government, nonprofit, etc.) are welcome.
  • Mentors are free to mentor one team or multiple teams,
  • Mentors will virtually meet with their teams via videoconferencing once a week for 30 minutes for three weeks between October 12th and November 2nd. Mentors have flexibility on scheduling their mentoring sessions.
  • The mentors’ objectives include:
    • Act as a sounding board for the teams.
    • Keep the teams on track to finish the presentations in a timely manner.
    • Help the teams develop roles within the teams.
    • Provide general guidance, but not specific solutions to the prompt.
    • Encourage the teams to think critically about potential energy sources and to consider a true interdisciplinary approach to their recommendation.

The world is waking up to the fact that energy is one of the most important issues of our time and energy poverty is a critical component of the coming energy transition. The International Switch Energy Case Competition challenges the next generation of energy professionals and decisionmakers to think deeply about complex global issues and the importance of energy.

If interested in acting as a mentor, email Bill Hays at by October 3, 2020.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 28, 2020

What an important topic area, Bill-- as we move forward in the energy industry we must not forget those who are still being left behind. Energy crosses into the area of human rights in that way, so I'm excited to see what comes from your efforts!

Bill Hays's picture
Bill Hays on Sep 28, 2020

You are absolutley right Matt. Access to affordable, reliable energy is definitely a human rights issue that touches so many areas, including empowerment of women, childhood mortality, and even fighting pandemics. In addition to the Case Competition, SEA’s latest energy film, Switch On, takes a first hand look at global energy poverty and related human rights issues.

Bill Hays's picture
Thank Bill for the Post!
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