A team from USC recently won the Great Power Race, a global clean energy competition that garnered more than 1,000 entries.
USC's Green Quad team was announced as the top scorer during the United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, last month. USC finished with 675 points, topping the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India with 660 points.
The Great Power Race mainly included college campuses in the U.S., China and India. Registered teams worked on implementing climate and clean energy solution projects to earn points.
Anjana Sukumar and Myoung Su Ko, the two captains of USC's Great Power Race team, are graduate students working toward master's degrees in the Earth and Environmental Resources Management program at USC.
Sukumar said this competition raised awareness and promoted clean-energy efforts among youth and hopes it will increase the nation's green efforts. She said the success of the U.S. in this competition puts pressure on
President Barack Obama by showing him how deeply American youth care about environmental issues.
David Whiteman, one of the faculty advisors for USC's team, gave Sukumar and Ko the credit for USC's involvement in the Great Power Race.
"It was all student-initiated. Those two learned about it and pulled everyone else along with them with their enthusiasm," Whiteman said.
The only stipulation for participation in the Great Power Race was the projects must be initiated and performed by students. Since students in the Green Quad at USC already perform green initiatives, Sukumar said USC was a perfect candidate for the competition.
"It was just a great way to gain publicity for all of the many things we are doing on campus. They were essentially compiling what we were already doing," Whiteman said. "It was great documenting the success of our programs here."
Sukumar hopes USC's involvement and success in the Great Power Race will encourage students across campus to get involved. She said it is important for green activists to engage other students in their work. "This is not only for environmental students, it should be a way of life for everyone," Sukumar said. "I'm hoping the competition helped outreach and educate students."
Six environmental agencies initiated the competition. The goal of the main organization, 350.org, is reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere from 388 parts per million to the scientifically safe level of 350 ppm.
"The Great Power Race will make a big difference in our country. It will make individuals more aware of the problems we have. Americans consume too much, and we are going to start having wars over natural resources," Sukumar said. "We should start embracing the changes that need to be made."
Sukumar hopes this competition will make people more aware of what needs to be done worldwide.
"The Great Power Race was not just a competition; it was the youth of the world making an effort to call people to action," Sukumar said. "It's all about awareness in the end."