Student OpEd Contest
Open to all enrolled college students nationwide and seeks to engage America’s greatest rising minds to think about and articulate solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.
Oct 15, 2023
Problem Solvers OpEd Contest
The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is excited to announce a fall 2023 scholarship for college students. The contest is open to all enrolled college students nationwide and seeks to engage America’s greatest rising minds to think about and articulate solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.
Who is Aii?
The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is the only national public policy think tank dedicated solely to infrastructure. Aii is a nonpartisan, independent research and educational organization with a mission to help foster innovative solutions to current and future infrastructure challenges. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation. The Alliance consists of two non-profits, the National Infrastructure Safety Foundation (NISF) 501(c)(4) and the Public Institute for Facility Safety (PIFS) 501(c)(3). Both non-profits consist of volunteer boards of directors who legally govern the Alliance. These boards also work in conjunction with the Alliance’s own volunteer Advisory Council.
This is the first scholarship contest run by Aii since our founding. Education has always been integral to what we do, and we believe this is an outgrowth of that vision. We challenge students to read and engage with dynamic research and reports to arrive at their own original arguments. Not only will they learn in the process, but they will advance the learning process by showcasing their ideas for others.
We are eager for students to take advantage of this opportunity to raise their voice and compete in the nationwide marketplace of ideas. By using an OpEd style contest, we are encouraging students to make a difference, speak up, and show their local policymakers and the country how we can leverage innovation and existing infrastructure to solve problems.
This contest not only provides students an opportunity to compete against their peers, but the chance to earn scholarship funds. Three finalists will be named and their work promoted, with 1st place earning $5,000, 2nd place earning $1,000, and 3rd place earning $500. Select runner-ups may also have their work highlighted to our nationwide audience of industry leaders and policymakers.
Choose Your OpEd Topic
Select one of the following three prompts. Read Aii reference material from “Suggested Sources” at the bottom of this page and incorporate relevant information in your own original OpEd article. Articles must be written in English only and should not exceed 900 words in length. The audience and tone should be toward the general public, or specific regional audience of a given publication.
An Action Plan
Decarbonization is increasingly important, but renewables aren’t coming online fast enough. What would you propose as an actionable, additive opportunity for reducing CO2 emissions associated with infrastructure in your community? Write an OpEd up to 900 words.
If I Were In Charge
You’re running for election in a local political race, and you need innovative and actionable ideas to lower the CO2 intensity of your department, agency, or locality. The plan needs to be ready to implement from the moment you step foot in the new office. Choose a real, public office election in a locality of your choice. Write a campaign thought leadership piece in which you take a clear stand with your ideas no longer than 900 words.
Unlocking The Future
One critically important pathway to reducing CO2 accumulation is to reduce emissions from cars and trucks. Electric vehicles are part of the solution, but it will take 20-30 years to grow our electrical grid to meet both the power generation and transmission capacity needed to support the rapidly growing charging needs for electric cars and trucks. We can’t wait 20 years for electric cars to become viable. Assuming that most people do not want to reduce their quality of life and do not want to give up the flexibility offered by having access to cars and trucks, what would you propose for your community and/or your local businesses? Write an OpEd about your proposal that would make vehicles – and energy for those vehicles – clean in your community by 2040. (No longer than 900 words)
• This contest is open to all currently enrolled college students across the United States. Students will have until October 15 to write out a well-sourced, original argument on one of three prompts and attempt to place it in a newspaper or similar publication.
• Open to all enrolled college students, including graduate students
• One entry per student.
• Contest will run from September 1 to October 15. Entries must be made by 11:59pm ET on Sunday, October 15.
(Students are encouraged to get started as soon as they can, but Aii will only evaluate submissions made during this period)
• The article should be clear as to which prompt the student chooses, but may be general or specific in its application to a certain locality or current event. The article should not state or restate the prompt – from the newspaper’s perspective, they are just receiving an opinion submission, but Aii is encouraging students to think through critical issues and think about innovation and infrastructure in a practical and impactful way.
• Abide by any publication requirements such as submission type (in body of email or as attachment), word count, hyperlinks or written sources, etc. The Aii contest prompts above are contest guidelines, but specific publication requirements will impact students’ ability to place articles for publication.
• 1st Place: $5,000
• 2nd Place: $1,000
• 3rd Place: $500
Winners will be selected by a judging committee assembled by Aii and will evaluate originality of argument, incorporation of innovation, and leveraging of existing infrastructure. Winning submissions will be promoted by Aii and certain articles may be published at Aii.org. Contest deadline is 11:59pm ET on Sunday, October 15.
Read through Aii resources and cite them in your OpEd.