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NREL Helps Students “JUMP” into Building Science Innovation

In Partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NREL Launches Its Third JUMP into STEM Collegiate Competition this August

August 18, 2020

Researchers and intern at workstation in a lab setting
Shaping tomorrow's leaders: One of the inaugural JUMP into STEM winners, Carl Woodard (middle), gets hands-on experience in the Thermal Storage Process and Components Laboratory at NREL. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

JUMP—which stands for Join the discussion, Unveil innovation, Make connections, Promote tech-to-market—into STEM is a collegiate competition that seeks to inspire the next generation of building scientists by focusing on creative ideation and diversity in the building science field. This program provides a gateway or on-ramp for undergraduate and graduate students from a wide range of majors and backgrounds to experience the research and career possibilities of studying building science.

The JUMP into STEM Final Event competition will be hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on or around January 28–29, 2021. Before students are invited to compete in-person this coming January, they must first produce creative solutions to one of three building science challenges presented by JUMP into STEM organizers. Student competitors must write compelling, well-researched papers on their innovative solutions and submit the papers for review by a panel of industry experts.

As of August 3, 2020, the 2020–2021 JUMP into STEM competition is open for student submissions. The three challenge topics are: Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB), Building Energy Audits for Residential or Commercial Buildings, and Advanced Building Construction Methods. Following are detailed descriptions of each challenge.

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) Challenge

This challenge encourages conceptual designs that support the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office’s overall GEB strategy in the areas of (1) intelligent algorithms that optimize a building’s active and passive systems to maximize energy efficiency and (2) whole-building-level interoperable and low-cost automation systems that enable communication with building equipment and appliances.

Building Energy Audits for Residential or Commercial Buildings Challenge

This challenge is intended for solutions that expedite energy audits or develop a new energy audit methodology that reduces time and cost compared to current audit practices. In addition to proposing solutions, this challenge also asks teams to demonstrate the proposed energy audit solution on an existing building.

Advanced Building Construction Methods Challenge

This challenge encourages substantial changes in building materials or construction methods, leading to benefits such as increased productivity and worker safety through reduced construction time, reduced cost and waste, improvements to occupant comfort and health, and reduced energy use.

Challenge submissions are due November 13, 2020. Winners will be selected from each challenge for innovation excellence and diversity of thought, and finalists will then be invited to compete at the Final Event. During this event, finalists will present their ideas to a panel of judges from industry, the U.S. Department of Energy, academia, and national laboratories. Winners of the Final Event will be awarded paid, 10-week summer internships at either Oak Ridge National Laboratory or NREL.

To learn more about JUMP into STEM and find out how you can submit your unique building science solution, visit