As Omaha Public Power District works to boost renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions through its Power with Purpose project, the utility is asking students from our area and beyond to come up with their own clean energy campaigns.
OPPD is among several Nebraska employers sponsoring real-world challenges for the Symphony Workforce Foundation’s virtual Find the Why! Contest. Middle school, high school, and college students from across Nebraska and the country, as well as college students from Colombia, India, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, are invited to take part. Aside from gaining crucial self-discovery, students are also competing for cash prizes, virtual internships and thousands in scholarship dollars.
Symphony Workforce, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, empowers young people by providing them with access to our region’s most dynamic companies and startups, while providing incentive to discover a career path that aligns with who they are at their core. This, in turn, gives employers like OPPD valuable insights to identify, engage and nurture its future workforce.
OPPD’s latest challenge runs from Nov. 9 – 15, asking participants to design a campaign to increase the adoption of clean energy policies in their communities. It’s open to individual students or teams of students between the ages of 12 to 25. They do not need to reside in our area, as the utility recognizes the need to not only retain young Nebraska talent, but also recruit young talent from other locations. For more information on the challenge and how to take part, visit OPPD.com/FindTheWhyChallenge.
This challenge was chosen as part of OPPD’s goal to be a net zero carbon emitter by 2050, with our Power with Purpose (PwP) project being a big part of that. We are building up to 600 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar generation and 600 MW of natural gas balancing generation with the latter to be used only as needed, per market conditions. PwP will be one of the largest renewable energy investments of its kind in the Midwest. To read more about these efforts and more, visit OPPDCommunityConnect.com.
Throughout the project, participating teams may engage with subject matter experts, seek guidance from OPPD’s energy advisors/mentors, as well as OPPD employee resource groups and communities of practice. The top three teams will be awarded cash prizes.
In September, OPPD posed another Find the Why! challenge. For that one, the utility asked students to help find ways to fill workforce gaps for all Nebraska businesses. The goals were to generate ideas on how to attract and retain talent, as well as to increase awareness about careers in energy and ensure workforce diversity. Winners were announced Oct. 7, as determined by subject matter experts selected by Symphony Workforce. The first place winner was a group called, “Sanguine Thinkers.” More information on that challenge and the other recognized teams can be found at OPPD.com/FindTheWhyChallenge.