Graham Sustainability Institute

Graduate Students: Win $10,000 for Your Sustainability Idea

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Each year, as part of the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA), we ask U-M graduate students for breakthrough ideas for helping planet earth to be a more sustainable place. Thank you to everyone who submitted their ideas for this year's competition.   The first-place winner will receive a cash award of $10,000; a runner up will receive $2,500. Click here for news about the 2012 winners!

The Dow Chemical Company established the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge to recognize innovations aligned with the company's 2015 sustainability goals. Based on our demonstrated academic excellence in the field of sustainability, the University of Michigan (U-M) is one of 17 strategic universities around the globe selected to participate in this program. SISCA presents a unique opportunity to recognize outstanding students for their innovative ideas in pursuit of sustainability.

Selection Criteria

To be considered, entries must directly relate to two or more of the following areas:

  • Sustainable Chemistry Breakthrough Solutions to Global Sustainability Challenges
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation
  • Adapting to or Reducing Climate Change Impact
  • Contributions to Community Sustainability
  • Success Life Cycle Product Safety Leadership
  • Human Health and the Environment
  • Sustainable Freshwater Supply and Distribution
  • Environmental Policy Development and Human Behavior Change
  • Sustainable Infrastructure

A review panel selected by leaders of the Graham Sustainability Institute will determine the finalists based upon the following criteria. Specifically, winning submissions must:

  • Potential for solving world challenges in alignment with the spirit of Dow's 2015 Sustainability Goals
  • Prominently feature interdisciplinary work and considerations beyond the student's primary discipline – blending applied science, engineering, business, behavior and policy considerations as appropriate.
  • Clearly articulate a new and innovative concept (e.g., process, service, policy, technology, product, etc.).
  • Have the potential for significant societal benefits and sustainability impact.
  • Demonstrate a well-crafted premise with convincing data and/or analysis, have scalable attributes, and a strong chance for success. Demonstrate meaningful progress toward the identified goal and a firm commitment to carry the effort forward. 

Eligibility Requirements

Any currently enrolled University of Michigan – Ann Arbor graduate student (i.e., Masters or Doctoral) is eligible to apply, with the exception of Dow Award winners from previous years, who are not eligible to apply. Individual students or student teams may submit an application. Only one application per person will be accepted. In the event that an individual is involved with more than one application (individually or as part of a team), all applications involving this individual will be disqualified from consideration.

Application Process

1. Apply online. Click here for the online application.
2. Submit a document (up to 1,500 words) describing your idea; one schematic may be included in the document.
3. Submit your application by 11:59 PM on November 1, 2012. No updates or late submissions will be allowed.  

Award Timing

  • SELECTION PROCESS: Week of Nov. 5
  • DOW WEB EVENT: Dec. 1

Click here to learn about previous winners here at U-M. If you have any questions about the application process, then please contact Sarah Crawford at or (734) 615-8230.

Good luck!