"One of the key constraints on the pace of technological innovation is the range of possibility that inventors dare to explore. Max Tech and Beyond is one way that DOE encourages our country's inventors to explore a larger space of clean energy technology possibility."

-Dr. Robert Van Buskirk, Initiator of the competition

Competition Objectives

The Max Tech and Beyond Design Competition for Ultra-Low-Energy-Use Appliances and Equipment supports faculty-lead student design teams at U.S. universities to design, build, and test ultra efficient product prototypes to reduce energy consumption in buildings and/or prototypes that greatly reduce the cost of such ultra-efficient products. The dual objectives of the Competition are to support the development of next-generation prototypes and the next generation of scientists and engineers who will design them.

Management and Sponsorship

The Design Competition is managed by the Efficiency Standards Group (EES) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and funded through the DOE's Building Technologies Office (BTO).

Competition Overview

The Design Competition is run on an Academic Calendar. In Spring a Request for Proposals (RFP) is sent to engineering, physical science, energy programs at universities throughout the U.S. Teams must consist of a faculty team advisor in a suitable field of study and at least three undergraduate and/or graduate students. Larger student teams are preferred. Senior engineering design teams are highly encouraged to apply. Proposals are submitted by the facutly team advisor and reviewed during the summer. Proposals must make a credible argument that their innovations will result in at least 5% energy savings over current best-on-market products or reduce the cost of ultra-efficient products by at least 20%. Selected teams receive up to $24,000 in support. The teams design, build, and test their prototypes during the academic year. The Competition culminates in a National Webinar in late Spring, at which student present the results. Final reports are reviewed an submitted by the faculty team advisor during the summer. The Competition is judged by a panel of energy efficiency experts. The winning team is announced by the end of summer.

Go to the How to Apply page for the most up to date instructions and RFP.


  1. What is the deadline for the competition proposals?

    The deadline for proposals is the first week of July, a month before the competition starts.

  2. What are the proposal requirements?

    See the RFP

  3. When will teams be selected?


  4. Who provides the funding for this competition?

    Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Program.

  5. What are the completion deliverables?

    See the RFP

  6. When does the competition end?

    June (the completion of the academic year)

  7. What are the required qualifications of the lead faculty advisor?

    The lead faculty advisor must be an active faculty member at the contracting university.

  8. What products qualify for the competition?

    Any widely used appliances or equipment used in the residential or commercial sectors.

  9. What kinds of technical innovations or modifications can be explored?

    Any technical advantage can potentially be used that will significantly (> 10%) reduce energy consumption and/or significantly (>20%) reduce the cost to build and sell what if currently the most efficient on market appliances. Modifying a current high-performing appliance, building a new prototype, and/or overall management of energy supply via automated controls, behavior, integration, or hybridization are all potential options.

  10. Does a fully functional prototype need to be built?

    No, if it is not plausible. However, the team must devise a way to demonstrate in the laboratory that the technological innovation significantly reduces energy use and has the potential for future use in appliances.

  11. Is there a limit on the number of faculty or post docs that can participate?

    No. However, one faculty member must be designated the lead.

  12. Is there a limit on the number of students that can participate?

    No. However, at least three (3) students must participate from beginning to end and one student must be designated the lead.

  13. Can individual students participate in more than one team in the competition?

    Yes, but they cannot be the lead student on more than one team.

  14. Can students from a mix of departments be a part of the competition?

    Yes. The team can be composed of students from any suitable background (i.e. STEM fields).

  15. If you are looking at more than one design to be run through the same design class should you submit more than 1 proposal?

    Yes, you should submit 1 proposal for each project/technical innovation as each one will be reviewed separately for funding.

  16. How much travel is required?

    No travel is required.

  17. Is a detailed budget required for the proposals?

    A cost proposal is required. The proposal should be an estimate with as much information as possible, as it will be relied upon for the budget. We anticipate the majority of costs to be from equipment, materials, and supplies, although student RA and PI summer salaries, based on percentages of effort may also be in the mix. This is not a grant, and costs are to be incurred in accordance with your submitted cost proposal.

  18. If selected, are there mandatory meetings and required reports?

    Yes, there are 2 status reports and one final report required and 2 mandatory teleconference meetings.

  19. What is the final judging based on?

    Energy savings, progress, level of innovation, professionalism throughout the year

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