Announcing the 2022–2023 JUMP into STEM Challenge Winners

Nationwide Building Science Student Competition Awards Teams Addressing Energy, Climate Change, and Sustainability Solutions

The next generation of building scientists is responding to the challenges of climate change with solutions for a more sustainable planet. The 2022-2023 JUMP into STEM Challenge asked college student teams from across the country to develop ideas to increase electrification, reduce energy use and carbon emissions, and to develop novel solutions to improve resiliency and sustainability of the built environment. The annual student competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

“This was another successful year for receiving high-quality submissions,” said Dr. Yeonjin Bae, ORNL’s JUMP into STEM program manager. “These students focused on developing comprehensive and innovative solutions that address climate change and energy justice, so that affordable building energy technologies can be available to all communities.”

”The JUMP into STEM management team congratulates our 2022-2023 Challenge Winners and Runners Up” said Dr. Kim Trenbath, NREL’s JUMP into STEM program manager. “Building science and sustainability is a growing field and an excellent career choice. We are pleased that we received many thoughtful and novel idea submissions that will advance building technology.”


2022-2023 JUMP into STEM Challenge Winners and Runners-Up

Curb Your Carbon


Composite Beam Machine

Arielle Kopp, Jacqueline Quirke, Alexandra Filipova, and Maggie Chudik— Vanderbilt University

Currently, steel is a major component of many buildings. While researchers are working on reducing the embodied carbon content of the material, the rate at which houses are being built is soon predicted to outpace the demand. This will leave a shortage of recycled steel, and is going to force the need to look for alternative sustainable solutions. To address this issue, the team created a machine that makes composite steel-timber beams. These beams are composed of both steel and cross laminated timber to create strong structural supports for buildings. This solution will target the environmental injustices associated with key stakeholder groups (specifically those located near these plants) and work to create jobs and a healthier community.


Carbon-Negative Building Materials: Building a Greener Tomorrow

Colleen Moauro, Tyler Fenton, Molly Maksin, and Zane Prose — Colorado School of Mines

Concrete is the most used building material due to its positive qualities including, but not limited to high strength, durability, resistance to water, thermal insulation, and inexpensiveness. Unfortunately, concrete is also responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions with half of its emissions from the necessary calcination reactions to produce cement. Therefore, to cut the carbon in building production, alternative materials and methods of construction must be considered. Lignin is the second-most abundant biomaterial in the world and a byproduct of several industries such as the paper and pulp industry. When isolated, it has excellent mechanical properties including high compressive strength and good plasticity that make it a compelling candidate for use in green construction materials, especially because it does not require high-carbon emitting calcination. The research team proposes designing a novel construction material called “LignoResin” to replace concrete in building construction. The research team also addresses and provides potential solutions for barriers to market adoption. A cost analysis shows that this material can be cost-competitive to concrete. Lastly, life-cycle analysis is conducted of the environmental impacts from 1 m3 of concrete to supplement the findings from other analyses.  It is concluded that because much of the CO2 emissions for concrete are from the calcination process, switching to the lignin-based solution will cut the carbon for buildings.


It’s Electric


Upcycle Old Electric Vehicle Battery Modules for Backup Power Systems in Rural Areas or Areas with Uncertain Power Supply

Dante Siracusa, Kennedy Moonin, Lindsey Albrecht, and Jacob Frogge — Indiana Institute of Technology

Repurpose EV Batteries Team targets specific groups and population sizes for repurposing electric vehicle batteries. EV batteries will be very prominent in the future, resulting in advantages and disadvantages. Once an EV battery ends its purpose and functional life, the Repurpose EV Batteries Team would like to repurpose the battery module for solar and electric power. This device can store an electric power supply for backup plans. The group/population, our team, is pinpointing is rural, small, lower to middle-class communities, towns, or villages. Most of these groups do not have a running generator for backup power supply purposes; however, repurposed EV batteries can be produced when there is a power shortage in a specific community. This battery power system has both opportunities to work domestically with the potential for international growth.


Solar Savings Web Estimator

Ila Sharma, Patrick Young, Joelle Dlugozima, and Gururaj Deshpande — Georgia Institute of Technology

This project focuses on raising awareness for and easing the incorporation of rooftop solar panels into low income housing projects. The proposal is a website that allows the low income population of Atlanta to view the average savings and tax break received if they decided to use solar power based on their current energy usage. This website also contains a separate page detailing the cost benefits of solar power in its relation with the Inflation Reduction Act raising awareness for these federal reforms.


Sustainable and Resilient


An Inquiry into Rainwater Harvesting for the Supplementation of Water Infrastructure During Times of Crisis

Daksh Sehgal, Yash Gupta, Vibha Narasayya, and Krishnav Bose — Georgia Institute of Technology

Water crises can cause great damage to infrastructure that is difficult to repair. Due to climate change, crises like these have become more common in the United States and are disproportionately affecting people of color (POC) and low-income communities. This research team has set out to solve the issue using Jackson, Mississippi, a predominately POC and low-income city that is highly affected by water crises as a case study. The research team developed a solution using rainwater collection cisterns that are installed in low-income households, along with a public initiative to make the solution accessible to low-income communities. The public stigma associated with the quality of rainwater will be addressed through with social campaigns to present the benefits of rainwater harvesting systems and its safety. A Randomized Control Design was utilized to test whether rainwater capture systems can reduce public water supply consumption and reduce home water costs in low-income households.


Solar Success Loans for Baltimore Resilience and Sustainability

Hanting Wong, Brennan Hughes, Cecilia Doyle, and Helen Hu— Johns Hopkins University

Due to the changing climate, the number of severe weather events is expected to increase. The growing number of record-breaking climate events is concerning for the power grid, as 90% of power outages are due to failure in electricity distribution systems caused by weather-related events that damage transmission infrastructure. To address the inequity in energy burdens, as well as the disproportionate effects of severe weather events for marginalized communities, this research team proposes “Solar Success Loans”. With this program the effects of extreme heat will be mitigated as community members will be able to afford more electricity, meaning more air conditioning. As more communities are developed with solar, the city will become more self-sustaining.


JUMP into STEM Finalists will be invited to present their solutions during the 2022–2023 Final Competition in January 2023 and compete for a paid summer 2023 internship at NREL, ORNL or PNNL.

JUMP into STEM works closely with industry sponsors, including Clayton Home Buildings Group, to make this competition a success. Sponsorship funds are crucial to allow for the inclusion of more student teams in the final competition, as well as expansion of the reception, activities, and other benefits for final event attendees and challenge winners.

JUMP into STEM is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Visit the Building Technologies Office website for more on energy-efficient building initiatives.