Riverside Public Utilities

Essay Contest

Engineering the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.

The Challenge

In October 2020, Riverside City Council adopted a new 5-year strategic plan, designed to set forth actions for achieving policy goals and help Riverside reach its potential.

The priorities identified in the strategic plan include developin¬¬g arts, culture and recreation opportunities; enhancing community well-being; providing economic opportunity; environmental stewardship; infrastructure, mobility and connectivity; and maintaining a high-performing government.

As the provider of Riverside’s drinking water and electric energy, the Riverside Public Utilities team, is uniquely positioned to play an instrumental role in reaching many of the goals outlined this 5-year plan, particularly in the areas of environmental stewardship and infrastructure.

Writing Prompt

Using the six sustainability goals as a guide, (view document here) participants will write an 800-1500-word essay discussing how the field of engineering could be used to achieve the sustainability goals outlined in the plan, specifically related to the provision of clean, reliable drinking water or reliable, affordable electric energy.

Regardless of the specific engineering field you reference in your essay (civil, environmental, mechanical, etc.) or which sustainability goal you address, essays must specifically reference possible projects that would be feasible to the City of Riverside.


The contest is open to individual students in grades 9-12 as of August 30, 2021, living in or attending public or private school in Riverside Public Utilities Service Area. (Verification required).

Rules and Requirements
  • Essay must be students original work, written in the students own words and written in English
  • Entry must be in essay form; be sure you understand the difference between a report and an essay
  • Essay must be 800-1500 words
  • Essay may not display the student’s name, school name or other personal, identifying information in the body of the essay
  • Essay may not have been previously published for any other contest or publication
  • One entry per student
  • Attribute quotes and any ideas that are not your own within the body of the essay. Do not use footnotes or endnotes.
  • Essays must be accompanied by a bibliography of your source materials, written in the APA style
  • Do not attach or add graphs, charts or graphic materials to the body of the essay
  • Essays must be received by 5:00pm PST on December 30, 2021
  • Essays will be judged by employees of Riverside Public Utilities including engineers from various engineering disciplines.
  • The decisions of the judges are final and incontestable
  • Essays will be judged on effectiveness in communicating ideas fully, demonstrated understanding of Riverside’s water supply, accuracy of research, incorporation of technical information to support ideas, creativity, originality in content selection and presentation ,grammar, spelling and mechanics
Winning Essays
  • Winning essays will be announced during Earth Month - April 2022
  • Winning essays will be published on the RPU website
  • First Prize – $600
  • Second Prize – $400
  • Third Prize – $200
  • In addition to the first, second and third prize awards, authors of the top three essays will be invited to spend a day with the Riverside Public Utilities engineering department, where they will see first-hand what might be involved in a day in the life of an engineer.
  • Prizes will be awarded to individual winners or winner’s parent/guardian if under 18 years old
  • Any federal, state and local taxes, and all similar fees and assessments are the sole responsibility of the prize recipient
How to Submit

Submission Portal will open on August 30th, 2021 and close on December 30, 2021 5:00pm PST.

Essay Contest 2021 Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 Essay Contest winners! Each student created a unique approach to writing an essay about how the field of engineering could be used to achieve the sustainability goals in the Envision Riverside 2025 Strategic Plan.

Todd Corbin - Utilities General Manger

First place - Pritesh Patel - Hillcrest High School

Second place - Patrick Pascual - Poly High School

Third Place - Kaylee Akison - Hillcrest High School

Essay Contest 2019 Winners

On March 10th and 12th, we announced the essay contest winners. All 3 students were called to the office and were surprised that they won the Essay Contest! We enjoyed getting to know the students and their parents and learned about their interest in the utility industry. Each student created a unique approach to writing their essay and these 3 students far exceeded our expectations. We can’t wait to do it again next year!

Third Place- Connor Godoy- Hillcrest High School

Second Place- Eric Marzouk- Hillcrest High School

First Place- Sean Summers- Encore High School