A group of people standing outside the entrance of a large building, facing the camera.

JUMP into STEM is back with three new challenges and more opportunities for university students interested in building science. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technologies Office’s annual competition kicked off its sixth year on August 1, 2023.

Hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the online competition provides students enrolled in a U.S. college or university with the opportunity to present solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing building scientists today. The competition is also supported by industry sponsorship.

Students in teams of two to four will focus on the following challenge topics:

  • Keepin’ It Cool (or Hot)
  • That’s a Wrap
  • You and Me, Carbon Free!

Idea submissions are judged by a well-balanced panel of experts from across the country including DOE, national labs, industry, and academia. Challenge-level winners and eligible teams compete against each other at the final competition, which will be held this year at ORNL. All challenge-level winners earn one-on-one mentorship from a building science professional. Eligible competition winners receive a paid 10-week summer internship at ORNL, NREL, or PNNL.

“As a judge who is deeply embedded in the industry, it is rewarding to see the future-thinking concepts come from those about to enter the field,” said Maggie Kelley Riggins, built environment project manager for the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and 2022-2023 competition judge. “This is one of my favorite opportunities to get to support students across the country in their work to become better building scientists!”

The JUMP into STEM Professor Team consists of faculty from colleges and universities who incorporate the competition into their curriculum and offer students the opportunity to participate as part of their course study. Though many participants learn about JUMP into STEM in the classroom, independent student teams may apply without a professor.

“Our JUMP into STEM Professor Team reflects the diversity of the building field with members representing not only the traditional building science fields of architecture and engineering but also public policy, computer science, and economics,” said Yeonjin Bae, ORNL’s JUMP into STEM lead.

“Rooted as a building technology and innovation competition for college and university students, JUMP into STEM has grown into a program that fosters collaboration between industry, academia, DOE, and national laboratories,” said Kim Trenbath, NREL’s JUMP into STEM lead.  “Participants experience working with a national laboratory while being introduced to the many possibilities a career in the building sciences can provide. Many connections are and will be made for students, professors, and industry sponsors who attend both the final competition and our new Industry Partner Visit Program."                                            

The Professor Team compliments diverse student teams from different majors and experiences who will use their unique perspectives to form novel solutions while utilizing critical thinking skills. All students are required to submit a diversity statement as part of the application process.

“I could talk about how wonderful the people are for ages, but I'd say the other aspect I loved was the applicability and the learning that came out of it,” said Julia Ehlers, a 2022-2023 competitor and student at the University of Nebraska. “JUMP into STEM really encouraged me at least to think outside the box and push myself to learn outside my comfort zone, throughout the process over the fall. The same thing happened jam-packed into two days during the final competition. It was amazing.”

This year’s JUMP into STEM challenge closes on November 10, 2023, and the final competition will be held January 25-26, 2024, at ORNL.

For more information or details about sponsorship opportunities, visit jumpintostem.org.