The Clarke Prize Environmental Design Challenge

Unlock your potential as an environmental change-maker and gain hands-on experience by applying your engineering skills to the Clarke Prize Environmental Design Challenge hackathon. 

On this page:

    Application period for the 2023-2024 Clarke Prize Environmental Design Challenge is now closed.

    The 2023-2024 Clarke Prize Environmental Design Challenge will take place January 27-28. 

    About The Award

    The Clarke Prize Environmental Design Challenge is a two-day hackathon, exclusively for undergraduate engineering students. Put your creativity and problem-solving skills to the test as you come up with new ideas to tackle real-world environmental challenges. Collaborate with peers, learn from experts and turn your innovative ideas into impactful solutions.

    In this intensive learning experience, students will hone their leadership development and communication strategies.

    Participants engage in a cumulative design challenge pitch and proposal before a panel of judges with a top prize of $10,000, second-place prize of $7,000 and a third-place prize of $5,000.

    Your journey towards engineering a better world starts here.

    Award Timeline

    • Applications Open

      • Monday October 30, 9 a.m.
    • Information Sessions

      • Tuesday November 7, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. (online) 
      • Wednesday November 15, 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. (online) 
      • Thursday November 30, 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. (in-person) 
    • Applications Close

      • Wednesday December 6, 11:59 p.m.
    • Hackathon Event

      • Saturday January 27, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
      • Sunday January 28, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Award Info Session

    Information Session: 

    If you’re interested in learning more about the Clarke Prize Environmental Design Challenge Award, we welcome you to attend an in-person or virtual information session. These sessions are designed to support you in navigating the application process and understanding the Design Challenge event, where teams will work together, design innovative solutions and pitch their ideas for a grand prize of $10, 000.

    By signing up for an information session, you will discover:

    • The approach and blueprints of the Design Challenge event. 
    • How to craft and submit your application. 
    • The dynamics of team participation and engagement in the event. 
    • Insights into the intended learning outcomes, skill development, and networking opportunities that await you through your participation.  


    Information Session Dates (remaining): 

    View an Information Session below!

    Submission Requirements

    1. Team or Individual Application Submission:

    During the application, please specify whether you are joining as an individual participant or as part of a pre-formed team (4-5 student members/ team). We welcome both individual innovators and existing teams to participate.

    If you're an individual participant seeking to join a team, don't worry! We will match you with like-minded individuals who share your passion for design, collaboration and problem solving.

    2. Video Component:

    As part of the application submission, you will need to submit a brief video clip (one minute max.). One video clip per application is required. This includes a team (one video submission/team) or an individual applying (one video submission). 

    • Video Submission Requirements: As an individual or team (4-5 students), demonstrate your passion/interest for sustainability in engineering. Pick a place on campus where you feel improvements can be made regarding sustainability. Your short video clip should not exceed 1 minute in duration and 250MB.

    3. Application Submission:

    Once you have decided if you will be submitting an individual application and/or have formed your team for a group submission, please complete the online application form, which includes essential details for your registration. This application will serve as your entry point into the challenge. 

    We look forward to receiving your submission and helping you embark on this exciting journey to create innovative solutions for a more sustainable future! 

    2023-2024 Application Deadline: Dec 6, 2023

    Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

    What’s Next?

    Following the application deadline, student teams and individuals will be notified of the successful admission to participate in the event along with next steps for getting prepared to engage in the challenge. 


    If you have questions, please contact Jennifer Galley, Leadership Education Specialist, at

    Design Challenge Highlights

    This hackathon event offers a dynamic platform for students to apply their engineering skills to tackle real-world environmental challenges.

    Participants can look forward to honing their problem-solving abilities, gaining hands-on experience, and collaborating with peers and industry experts, all while contributing to innovative solutions for a more sustainable future.

    Your team could be awarded a first-place prize of $10,000, a second-place prize of $7,000, or a third-place prize of $5,000!

    Join us in this transformative journey that equips tomorrow's engineers with the expertise and passion to make a meaningful impact on our environment. See below to explore the events core competencies and learning objectives.  

    2024 Highlights

    Check out our recap video from the 2024 Clarke Prize!

    Also, you can read our full feature on the event here.

    Clarke Prize Environmental Challenge Hackathon

    Portrait Sandra

    Keynote Speaker:

    Sandra Odendahl, P.Eng, CFA
    Senior Vice President and Head, Sustainability, Diversity and Partnerships, BDC

    Sandra Odendahl is Senior Vice President and Head, Sustainability, Diversity and Partnerships at BDC, the financial institution devoted exclusively to Canadian entrepreneurs.  She leads all facets of BDC’s Corporate Sustainability and ESG strategy and programs, including the bank’s renewed and enhanced focus on the environment as well as its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. She is also responsible for overseeing BDC’s strategic partnerships with organizations that help deliver economic, social, and environmental impact in communities across Canada.

    Sandra’s career in corporate sustainability and sustainable finance has spanned more than 25 years, including leading enterprise-wide sustainability, environmental and social risk management and social finance programs and strategies at two of Canada’s chartered banks.   In the early part of her career, Sandra worked in the natural resources sector as an environmental scientist and engineer in Toronto and Vancouver.  A committed community volunteer, Sandra has also enjoyed serving on non-profit boards, expert panels and advisory groups throughout her career.

    Sandra holds a Master of Applied Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and is a licensed professional engineer and a CFA charter holder.

    Professional Development (PD) Sessions: Throughout the challenge, attendees will have the opportunity to attend a series of engaging PD sessions, carefully curated to enhance their skills and knowledge in design thinking, problem-solving, sociotechnical systems, communication and so much more. These sessions provide a valuable platform for participants to learn from industry experts and reflect on how this may impact their career aspirations and the world at large.

    The 2024 Clarke Prize hackathon will include workshops on;

    • Incorporating Sustainability in Design
    • Effective Teamwork
    • Circular Economy & Life Cycle Assessment Methods
    • Systems Mapping for Sustainability
    • Creating a Compelling Idea & Design Pitch

    Judges & Special Guests: Our panel of judges and special guests from industry bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the challenge. They will evaluate the innovative solutions and designs pitched by students, provide feedback/mentorship and award winning team the $10 000 grand prize.  

    Two-Day Event Structure: The challenge is structured over two exciting days, each with a distinct focus. Day One is dedicated to leadership learning, team formation and foundational content knowledge. On Day Two, participants put their learning into action, working collaboratively to develop and pitch their innovative solutions to the Design Challenge judges.

    Day 1: Saturday, January 27 | 9:00 am - 4:30 pm Day 2:  Sunday, January 28 | 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
    8:30 am Arrival & Registration
    9:00 am Formal Opening & Welcome
    9:30 am Keynote Speaker
    10:00 am Hackathon Challenge Prompt Presented
    10:30 am Plenary Session
    11:30 am Connecting with Your Team
    12:00 pm Lunch
    1:00 pm Workshops
    4:00 pm Formal Closing of Day 1
    8:30 am Arrival & Registration
    9:00 am Formal Opening & Welcome of Day 2
    9:30 am Hacking
    11:30 am Lunch
    12:30 pm Presentations & Judging Begins
    3:00 pm Judges Deliberate Winners
    4:00 pm Winners Announced & Celebration
    4:30 pm Formal Closing of Day 2

    Location & Time: Join us at the Bahen Centre (40 St George St, Toronto), UofT Campus on Saturday January 27 and Sunday January 28 for this immersive experience. 

    The 2023/2024 Steering Committee: 

    • Prof. Emily Moore 
    • Prof. Lisa Romkey 
    • Prof. Alison Olechowski 
    • Rubaina Khan 
    • Jennifer Galley 
    • Julietta Saberian
    • Melissa Siah 
    • Amna Adnan 
    • Estelle Oliva-Fisher

    About Richard M. Clarke

    Richard and Jacquie Clarke - edit

    Richard (Dick) Clarke was born and raised in Toronto and graduated in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1954. He earned a Masters in chemical engineering from Yale University and went on to have a distinguished career in manufacturing and the chemical industry in the United States and Canada. Richard served in executive positions in a number of public and private companies, becoming CEO of Celanese Canada based in Montreal. He returned to the US and continued to serve in senior executive and board roles. Richard was married to Jacqueline (Eaton) for over 60 years and had two daughters and three grandchildren. 

    The Clarke Prize is a reflection of Clarke's confidence in the engineering profession’s ability and responsibility to benefit society and protect the environment, as well as his belief that character, leadership and teamwork are critical elements in engineering practice. The Prize is also a demonstration of Richard’s appreciation of his engineering education at the University of Toronto, and his upbringing in Canada.