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Clean Air Markets

Frequent Questions about the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge

EPA's Clean Air Markets Division (CAMD) is looking to academic and research institutions to propose practical and replicable projects that benefit academic institutions, the environment, and the public for the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge. Below are the answers to general frequently asked questions about the Air Data Challenge, as well as ones specific to the application process.

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General Questions

What are the benefits of winning the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge?

The EmPOWER Air Data Challenge offers researchers and students practical experience working on environmental issues with EPA and gives researchers the opportunity to advance research applications. EmPOWER Air Data Challenge projects can also serve as a capstone project for students.

As a challenge winner, you will receive direct support from EPA Clean Air Markets Division (CAMD) staff experts to answer questions and assist you with CAMD tools and data analysis. Additionally, you will receive national recognition by being featured on the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge website and potential speaking opportunities at conferences and events.

How will EPA typically collaborate with winners on a project?

EPA CAMD staff will tailor the types of interaction based upon project proposals, providing the support needed to successfully complete each project. Examples of collaboration include monthly phone calls and/or webinars with challenge winners and EPA staff, regular email contact, and status updates to proactively address any issues. Challenge winners that are already very familiar with CAMD data may need less direct support.

Do I need to have a strong scientific or engineering background to get involved?

The EmPOWER Air Data Challenge aims to make emissions data more understandable to the public, a goal that’s benefitted by many types of skills and knowledge sets. Even without scientific or engineering expertise, you could offer creative insight into educating stakeholders, exploring opportunities to use CAMD data in the classroom, and crafting new communication tools.

We encourage you to design a project that applies your unique skills and interests to any of the potential project themes: analyzing data, enhancing communication, developing technology and data mashups, promoting environmental education, and improving data quality.

What funding is available for winning projects?

EPA does not have any direct funding for completion of winning projects. However, we encourage you to reach out to your communities or other organizations for additional financial support, if needed.

Are internships available for challenge winners?

At this time, EPA does not have funds to support paid internships for challenge winners. However, we encourage students to look at EPA’s student internships web page for more information about opportunities at EPA.

Are all CAMD data public?

Yes, all CAMD data resources are public information and can be cited in any published literature.

What data does CAMD collect?

CAMD collects information from over 4,000 electricity generating units. These data include details about monitoring systems, air pollution controls, fuel types, and electric generating capacity; hourly data about sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; hourly operating parameters including heat input and gross electricity output; and results of monitoring system quality assurance (QA) tests. More information about the monitoring and reporting requirements can be found in the Plain English Guide to the Part 75 Rule.

Additionally, in cooperation with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and many other partners, CAMD operates the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET). CASTNET data are used to assess long-term trends in air quality and deposition and provide accountability for emission reduction programs. CASTNET measures weekly gaseous (SO2, HNO3) and aerosol (SO42-, NO3-, NH4+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, Cl-) concentrations at more than 90 sites. Descriptions of the monitoring program, site locations, and data are available on the CASTNET website.

If I am selected as a winner of the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge, will I be able to publish my results in a peer-reviewed publication?

Yes. EPA will work with challenge winners who wish to publish their analysis in a peer-reviewed journal to determine the best way to highlight the winning projects on the challenge website without conflicting with journal rules limiting submission of previously published work.

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Application Process

Who can apply to the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge?

Anyone affiliated with an accredited college or university or research institution (e.g., think tank) can submit an application. This includes research fellows, undergraduate/graduate students, Ph.D. candidates, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty.

How can I apply?

To apply, complete the Application Form and send that along with your project description to EPA by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 2, 2020. Applications should address all stages of the proposed project, including the approach you will take, timeline, and type of results and/or product of the project. Applications should be no more than eight pages (excluding the Application Form).

How will the applications be reviewed?

A review panel of EPA staff will individually assess and assign scores for each application based upon the evaluation criteria. After the scoring process, the review panel will meet to reach a consensus on the selected proposal(s). The evaluation criteria include: clarity and effectiveness of proposed approach (40%), project outcomes (40%), and partner capabilities (20%). Additional criteria details are available on the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge website.

How many applications will be accepted?

EPA expects to select up to two projects. Additional projects may be chosen depending on the staff resources needed to support each project.

When will I find out if my submission has been selected?

EPA will notify applicants of the project decisions on or before April 14, 2020.

If my submission is selected, when will my project begin?

Your project can begin any time after receiving notification of selection with the goal of completing the project before the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.

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