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The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. These systems integrate solar, storage, and other technologies across mixed-use districts, or groups of buildings served by a common electrical distribution feeder. The competition engages students in the engineering, urban planning, finance, and related disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

There are 59 student-led teams from 56 collegiate institutions competing in the Solar District Cup Class of 2021. The 2021 district partners are the City of Denver and Auraria Higher Education Center, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Learn more about the Solar District Cup program and register to compete in the Class of 2021 on HeroX, the competition platform.

Class of 2021 Participating Schools

Click to expand the list of schools

Alfred University
Appalachian State University
Arizona State University 
Boise State University
California Polytechnic State University
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Clark Atlanta University
Columbia University
Cornell University 
East Tennessee State University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois State University
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Joliet Junior College
Marquette University
Miami University
Navajo Technical University
NC State University
Northwest Vista College
Prairie View A&M University
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Santa Clara University
South Dakota State University
Stevens Institute of Technology
Tennessee Tech University
Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University–Kingsville
Texas Tech University
The George Washington University
The Ohio State University
The Pennsylvania State University
The University of Alabama
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Massachusetts Lowell
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Toledo
The University of Virginia
Triton College
Tulane University
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Irvine
University of California, San Diego
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Kentucky–Paducah Campus
University of Maryland
University of North Texas
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus
University of Southern California
University of the Virgin Islands
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Utah State University
Yale University


  • Aurora Solar Inc. – Aurora Solar has created a one-stop, cloud-based solution to streamline the entire solar design and sales process. The company is providing complimentary accounts with access to their solar software to all competing teams for the duration of the competition, as well as customized training and hosting "office hours" sessions.
  • HeatSpring, LLC – HeatSpring has developed a platform enabling knowledge leaders to better reach knowledge seekers. Their online courses are led by industry experts and taken by professionals within solar, green building, and other clean energy industries. HeatSpring is providing a training platform and solar industry training content for use by hundreds of competing students as well as hosting "office hours" sessions with solar business experts Keith Cronin and Chris Lord.
  • Solar Power Events – Solar Power Events, owned by the Solar Energy Industry Association and Smart Electric Power Alliance, is the event group behind North America’s largest solar and storage events. The organization is providing space, promotion, and amenities to the Solar District Cup.
  • City of Denver and Auraria Higher Education Center – The City of Denver and Auraria Higher Education Center are a 2021 district use case partner.
  • University of Central Florida – The University of Central Florida is a 2021 district use case partner.
  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln – The University of Nebraska – Lincoln is a 2021 district use case partner.

Thank you to our sponsors for helping make the Solar District Cup a success.

The recognition of sponsor organizations does not constitute or imply any endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation of their messages, missions, activities, products, or programs. The U.S. Department of Energy does not monitor, control, or directly fund the activities of the identified organizations.


Timeline is subject to change.

  • March 31, 2020 – Launch of 2021 competition
  • April 30, 2020 – Competition registration opened
  • July 2020 – Rules released
  • September 29, 2020 – Deadline for registration of participating teams
  • October 6, 2020 – Participating teams announced
  • November 2020 – Deadline for receipt of Progress Deliverable Package from all participating teams
  • December 2020 – Finalist teams announced
  • April 2021 – Deadline for receipt of Final Deliverable Package from finalist teams
  • April 2021 – Finalists present their projects to judges and industry at an industry conference
  • April 2021 – Winners announced

Learn More

This work is funded as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office FY2019-21 Lab Call through a project with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.