Imagine Tomorrow

Topic and Challenges

Pursuing Sustainability Nonstop.

As the world transitions to alternative energy sources, people have to make fundamental changes in the way they operate. In this high school competition, your team explores ways to enable some aspect of this transition. What types of inventions or redesigns will be needed to take full advantage of new renewable energy sources? How will suburbs, towns, and cities need to be redesigned? What types of behavior changes will be necessary, and how do we bring those about?

Challenge Topics

Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow lets you choose among four challenges and address the challenge you select by developing your own creative, well-researched solutions.

Challenge Topic 1: The Itron Food, Energy, and Water Challenge

Food, energy, and water are all connected.  Energy is needed to produce clean water, while water can be used to produce energy. Food production requires both water and energy, and is sometimes used to produce energy. Competition exists for our limited natural resources that can create conflict, such as a conflict over our water resources to support food production, hydro-electric power generation, and water for fish and wildlife. Energy and resources are also needed to package, transport, distribute, and consume food.

Challenge Topic 2: The Boeing Aerospace Challenge

The aerospace industry relies on a vast manufacturing, transportation, maintenance, and operational infrastructure in order to produce, deliver, fly, and support aircraft and spacecraft travel. These include factories, trains and automobiles, airports, computer networks, as well as environmental, security and other support networks. Vital components of aerospace travel include cost-effective fuel, energy, and life support systems that can operate for extended periods without refueling or resupplying.

Challenge Topic 3: The Biofuels Challenge

Transportation biofuels come from bio-based sources ranging from waste products such as cooking oil to crops such as canola. The materials that are used to create biofuels vary around the country. Components of this industry include production, collection or harvesting, transportation, processing, distribution, and adaptation to vehicle use.

Challenge Topic 4: The McKinstry Built Environment Challenge

Buildings and supporting infrastructure such as roads and utilities are some of the heaviest consumers of natural resources and account for a significant portion of the energy use in the world. Improving efficiency in the design, construction, or operation of the built environment is necessary for increasing a sustainable future. 


Once you have chosen your challenge, decide on the approach your team is going to use to come up with a solution:

  • Technology: Using science and engineering to improve efficiency, reduce demand on resources, and to come up with new “outside of the box” approaches.
  • Design: Developing for efficiency, long-term use, with less impact on natural resources, such as approaches that reduce energy, water and other resources.
  • Behavior: Changing the way people make decisions, improving education, affecting policy, and working with communities to create local change.



Email competition organizers at

Imagine Tomorrow, Washington State University, PO Box 645222, Pullman, WA 99164-5222 | 509-335-3530 | Contact Us