Buildings student interns took a deep dive into the real world during the first JUMP into STEM industry partner visit over the summer. Three interns spent time with Clayton Home Building Group leadership as part of a two-day site visit in July that began at the company’s East Tennessee headquarters in Maryville and concluded at the Clayton Appalachia homebuilding facility in Andersonville.

Clayton has provided industry sponsorship support to JUMP into STEM since 2020. JUMP into STEM is the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office’s annual student competition led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with management support provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

Interns Gabe Hoggard, ORNL, Andrew Fix, NREL, and Anu Adeyemo, PNNL, participated in networking sessions and gained insight into how ideas become technologies that make it onto the production floor and into the marketplace. The trio had the opportunity to present their summer projects followed by feedback and discussions in the Clayton Design Center.

“Visiting Clayton allowed me to gather an understanding of how Industry and the national labs create the future that we as consumers see years down the line,” said Hoggard. “Through that understanding along with individual discussions with industry partners, I received some great advice regarding my current career path within the architecture and construction industry.”

“I think my most important takeaway (from the visit) was just reminding myself that, I can spend a whole career developing new technologies, but their impact will only be truly felt if I can partner with companies, like Clayton, to implement them in ways that present minimal adoption barriers to the end users,” added Fix.

Students and Clayton leadership engaged in conversation about the perceptions of manufactured housing and the industry’s future. The corporate headquarters tour showcased the business side of home production and students transitioned to seeing firsthand the building process at the manufacturing facility. Clayton Home Building Group is the home building division of Clayton and operates 40 off-site home building facilities, 20 supply facilities, 9 on-site builders and four Clayton Connect transportation hubs, across the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

“Sponsorship from partners like Clayton provide unrestricted funding that supports intern travel to the yearly JUMP into STEM final competition and increases accessibility for participants,” said ORNL’s Bill Eckman, who coordinates industry support.

Eckman noted that in the past, sponsors did not have this unique one-on-one access to the JUMP intern winners through site visits.  “These visits provide the opportunity for the interns to see building science outside the lab and outside an academic setting,” he said.

The Clayton visit was a pilot for future industry visits and will serve as a guide for potential sponsors who may want to engage in similar opportunities. The interns are accompanied on visits by JUMP into STEM leadership, DOE sponsors, and buildings researchers from the national labs.

“The industry partner visit is completed concurrently with the 10-week internship and we work with the partner to plan and organize the visit so that it best meets the students’ and host’s needs,” Eckman said. “Visits are focused on illustrating the role and capabilities of industry in technology commercialization and we hope to accomplish this through networking sessions, tours and unique engagements specific to the partner.”

JUMP into STEM is currently recruiting sponsors for summer 2024 to engage with national lab student interns. Sponsorship levels include: platinum, gold, silver and bronze with various monetary levels and benefits. Platinum and gold-level sponsors are eligible for the Industry Partner Visit program, with limited spots available each year.

To learn more about how to become a sponsor, visit

Student challenge topics for the 2023-24 competition focus on developing an innovative solution for thermal energy building storage; improving the performance of existing building envelopes; and creating an innovative solution for reducing carbon emissions from buildings.

About JUMP into STEM

JUMP into STEM is a nationwide competition for undergraduate and graduate students at U.S. academic institutions that aims to inspire the next generation of building scientists. The competition is hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Engineering Laboratory and sponsored by the Department of Energy. With diversity at the forefront of the program, JUMP into STEM emphasizes the inclusion of an interdisciplinary mix of majors (e.g., computer science, mathematics, economics, policy, engineering) and students underrepresented in the building science field.

JUMP into STEM summer interns visited industry sponsor Clayton Home Building Group in East Tennessee at their headquarters in Maryville and their production facility in Andersonville. Three interns from ORNL, PNNL, and NREL presented their research projects, met with Clayton leadership, and toured the facilities with their lab mentors, JUMP into STEM program managers, and DOE BTO’s Nicholas Ryan.