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The students using STEM to enable the energy transition

  • The Sci-Tech Challenge encourages young people to tackle global problems like climate change.
  • This year students worked on clean energy projects.
  • More than 67,000 students have competed in the Sci-Tech Challenge since it launched in 2010.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) offers exciting careers, including the chance to really impact the energy transition. But not enough young people in Europe are studying these subjects, and the EU faces a STEM skills shortage.

ExxonMobil is encouraging young people to go into STEM. As part of that, we co-founded the Sci-Tech Challenge with JA Europe. Now in its 15th year, the Challenge brings together students from across the continent for problem solving, teamwork and to wow the judges with fresh ideas to global issues. In the past 15 years, more than 67,000 students between 15 and 18 have taken part in the competition, using their science skills to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

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The 2024 final took place in Brussels this April. During the event, students from Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic were given the task of using clean technology to accelerate the energy transition. “Thinking of ways to become more carbon-neutral is key to our future,” said Dutch student Kobe. 

The students who reached the final had already won national competitions in their own countries. During the two-day final, they presented innovative ideas that used solutions including carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, lithium, and lower-emission fuels. “The quality of the students’ work really impressed me,” said ExxonMobil Europe president Phillippe Ducom. “They looked at some of the most important challenges of the energy transition and they had really good ideas for a more sustainable society.”

Diana Filip, deputy CEO and chief development officer of JA Europe, explained that students are given genuine problems to solve. “We wanted them to focus on a challenge that is very real,” she said. “It's important to engage young people and give them the chance to think of ideas for the big challenges we face.” The concept from winning team The Pendy offered a creative approach to producing cleaner shipping fuel: mixing wind power with ammonia.

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STEM skills are essential to helping the world solve its biggest challenges. And by encouraging young people to choose STEM careers – including through events like The Sci-Tech Challenge – we can work towards a cleaner future. As Ella, a student from Belgium, explained: “STEM is really important because it’s the foundation of all the ideas we have to make our society better.“ 

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