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U.S. Department of Energy's Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition (In Progress)

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What better way to prepare for a career in the renewable energy industry than by taking on the role of a solar developer to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a real-world campus or urban district? That’s exactly what students experience when they compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition. Undergraduate and/or graduate student teams are provided with the tools and support they need to develop creative solar-plus-storage solutions that have real-world impact using organizer-provided actual energy and campus data for a real client. Student competitors gain first-hand industry experience designing innovative energy systems, creating financial models, and pitching their final project ideas to experts. 

Participation is entirely free, presentations are virtual with no travel required, and the deadline to register a team for the Class of 2021-2022 competition is Sept. 27, 2021. (There will be travel stipends for the winning teams to present at an industry conference (if safe to do so).)

This two-semester project gives students the opportunity to: 

  • Assume the role of a solar developer by creating real-world solar-plus-storage solutions 
  • Participate in a unique team building experience that will shape their futures 
  • Build relationships and network with industry insiders 
  • Gain a career advantage that will help them land good jobs in the renewable energy industry.  

Teams can consist of three or more students from majors such as engineering, business, communications, marketing, sustainability, urban planning and design. For those passionate about a sustainable world, this is a way to design a project that shows how high penetrations of renewables are possible using real data and real constraints.

More than 100 schools across the United States have participated in this remarkable competition since it began in 2020. Participating students showed an 80% improvement in industry knowledge after completion of the program.  

Student teams aren't required to have faculty advisors but many prefer to. Whether a student or faculty advisor, competitors receive everything needed to succeed—including a clear contest structure, timelines that fit the academic year, supporting curriculum, ongoing expert assistance, free access to industry-leading software like Aurora Solar and Energy Toolbase, and input from industry-leading guest speakers. 

This is a free opportunity to help build the solar energy workforce of the future while giving visibility to your academic program. Please consider this personal invitation for you and your colleagues to commit to leading one or more student teams in our Class of 2021-2022 competition. Whether students participate through a course, as a capstone project, or as part of an extracurricular club, your guidance will help them succeed! 

Registration for this fun and exciting challenge has been extended until Sept. 27, 2021, and can be completed in just a few minutes at by choosing “solve this challenge”, creating an account, forming a team (even if just you for now), and then submitting the “register” entry. You can add team members at any time, and there is no penalty for withdrawal.

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