Energize the Competition

Bauer International Student Maryam Amini Places Second in Annual Mercuria Hackathon

This semester, C. T. Bauer College of Business graduate student Maryam Amini had the opportunity to explore new ideas for the energy transition while engaging with classmates and business leaders. 

Amini earned 2nd place in this year’s annual Mercuria Hackathon held in August. The annual event challenges its participants to develop new and innovative solutions for energy transition and conservation. 

The energy transition company Mercuria has hosted this event since 2022 and awards 50 students a scholarship to participate in the competition each year. 

“I was in a group with four more people including a computer scientist and a chemical engineer,” Amini said. “We worked more than 10 hours each, and we gathered to share our opinions with each other. It was very fun for me because we worked hard, and we got to know people. For the first time, I met people from MIT and Berkley.”  

Amini, an international student pursuing her MS in Finance, came to the United States in early 2022 to continue her education. While living in Iran, Amini received a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering as well as a Master of Science in supply chain management. 

“It wasn’t just me who got second place — my team was very hard working and were very good at presenting,” Amini said. “We earned second place, and all the judges told us it is the hardest thing to choose between first and second place.” 

For the event, the 50 students are broken up into 10 groups to compete against each other. The groups this year were all challenged to develop a strategy for the use of energy storage in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid because the event was held in Austin this year. Mercuria chose this as the challenge to help bring awareness to ongoing issues with energy storage and its relationship with power grids. 

Amini and team taking a quick selfie break during the competition. 

“The best thing I learned was about speaking and listening to new ideas,” Amini said. “In my group, I didn’t agree with some of the ideas, but I learned I cannot only speak about my opinion, I just listened again and again and because of that, they accepted my opinion as well. It was really amazing for me because they are very different from me, but I could listen to their perspective and their view of the problem as well.” 

Being an international student, Amini has made sure to get very involved at Bauer College. Since beginning her studies in January 2022, Amini has become one of the student ambassadors for the college.  

Senior Career Development Specialist Erin Sweeney has worked with international students since her arrival in 2013 and knows the importance of events like these for international students. 

“One reason these events are so important is because international students don't have the U.S. experience,” Sweeney said. “This is basically giving them that extra credibility and, a chance to really build their network with employers that they might want to go to work with and again build that credibility. And of course, they're getting experience with problem solving and competitions and presentations, so they really work on their communication skills.” 

Amini, just like many students who come through Bauer, has made sure to take advantage of the time she has had at Bauer. After her graduation in May 2024, Amini will be looking for work in the finance field with one offer already from KPMG. 

“I think the time spent getting involved as a student formulates like gold,” Amini said. “Always keep learning things, even little things from every opportunity. I have been a part of Bauer for about one year, but I have learned more here than in 10 years and that has been really valuable for me.”