AISES Energy Challenge

The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), Division of Energy and Mineral Development (DEMD),  in partnership with the American Indians and Science and Engineering Society (AISES) hosts the annual Energy Challenge for American Indian and Alaska Native youth in grades 9-12. The Energy Challenge is an energy-specific science fair designed to engage and encourage high school students to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education through a creative, hands-on, engineering product development design process. The teams endure a rigorous scoring system and compete against a multitude of other impressive teams. The top two teams are awarded a trip to Washington, D.C. to receive their awards, present their projects to Indian Affairs leadership, and participate in educational activities during their stay in our nation’s capital. This year’s top two teams were one person teams. 

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2017 Energy Challenge Grand Prize Winners:


  • Jake Keli’I Uyechi (Native Hawaiian)
    Analyzing Bacteria in Microbial Fuel Cell Energy Generation
    11th Grade, HI

    His project focused on the problem of high electricity costs in Hawai’i. Energy costs in Hawai’i are more than twice that of the continental U.S. Jake designed and tested the best methods for taro farmers to use mud directly from the taro patches to provide a sustainable source of energy. He used Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) and found what design and conditions work best for generating electricity.

  • Kelly Charley (Navajo)
    Utilizing Solar Technologies to Heat a Traditional Home
    12th Grade, AZ

    Her project addresses the unique energy needs of the over 20,000 Navajo people over the age of 60 living on the reservation.  For this project, Kelly built upon 3 years of previous research and design. She set out to create a solar heating system that could generate the highest possible temperatures.  Her prototype design surpassed her initial goal, heating water to over 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.44 Celsius).  She continues to refine the design so it can be more practical for in-home use.    

Congratulations to this year’s teams for all their hard work and make sure to enter in next year’s Energy Challenge!

About Our Partner, the DEMD

The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), Division of Energy and Mineral Development (DEMD) office is the primary office responsible for fulfilling Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs' trust responsibility to Indian Tribes and allottees concerning the development of their conventional energy, renewable energy and mineral resources on Trust lands.  DEMD is the only office within the Federal government with the primary responsibility of assisting Indian mineral owners assess, identify, and promote their energy and mineral resources and insuring that the Indian communities and individual Indians realize a maximum revenue stream from the development of their vast Trust resources.  While other DOI agencies have some limited responsibilities in Indian energy and mineral development, the Tribe (or allottee) is not their main client as it is with DEMD.   DEMD takes a much stronger role as the lead agency providing advice and financial support to Indians.  

The development of energy resources on Indian lands has helped to place the United States on the path to a more secure energy future, while significantly impacting the economic health of many Indian communities.  While the progress has been substantial there remains much to do, as historically Indian lands still remain under-developed relative to surrounding non-Indian lands.  Recognizing the opportunities that exist for Indians, DEMD’s sole purpose is to provide technical advice, economic advice and support services to assist Tribes in achieving the maximum economic self-sufficiency by creating sustainable economic benefit through the environmentally sound development of their energy and mineral resources.  One portion of this effort is to develop tribal managerial, organization and technical capacity needed to maximize the economic impact of energy resource development on Indian land.

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