Syracuse University/SUNY-ESF Team Wins ‘JUMP into STEM’ Competition

A team of graduate students representing Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) has been named a winner in this year’s “JUMP into STEM” competition, an online building science program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

From Jan. 28–29, 19 students from 11 teams from across the county participated in a two-day virtual event, hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), designed to replicate the experiences they would have during an on-site competition.

Trisha Gupta G’21Trisha Gupta G’21Each team had 10 minutes to present their project to a team of judges—drawn from the building science community—who evaluated the presentations based on their technical, innovation and diversity merits, as well as to a virtual audience comprised of professors, classmates and families of the competitors.

Trisha Gupta ’21 (M.S.) and Vedyun Mishra ’21 (M.S.), both master’s degree students in the School of Architecture, were judged one of the four winning teams for their project, “Enabling the Proliferation of Energy Auditing.”

“We are very proud of Trisha and Vedyun for their outstanding achievement,” says Michael Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture. “This deserved recognition is not only the result of their hard work but also of the collaboration between SUNY-ESF and the ‘Design Energy Futures’ M.S. in Architecture program at the School of Architecture.”

Vedyun Mishra G’21Vedyun Mishra G’21This year’s competition, jointly managed by NREL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), asked students to research, collaborate and develop possible solutions for three key issues facing the building science industry: advanced building construction methods, building energy audits for residential or commercial buildings, and grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEB).

Completed as an independent project for the graduate-level Sustainable Energy Systems for Buildings course (CME 505) at SUNY-ESF, Gupta and Mishra responded to the prompt “to develop technical solutions to expedite energy audits or develop a simplified, yet effective, energy audit methodology, by finding ways to reduce time and cost compared to current audit practices.”

Guided by faculty advisor Paul Crovella, assistant professor of forest and natural resources management at SUNY-ESF, the team’s project addressed the need for accurate and cost-effective residential building energy audits by looking at how the use of drones, infrared camera technology and machine learning could help evolve and automate the process.

“We are proposing an innovative solution to combine the power of using different but interconnected technologies to harness the true potential of energy auditing for the future,” says Mishra.

As winners of the final round of the competition, Gupta and Mishra received paid 10-week summer internship offers at ORNL and NREL, respectively, to work on projects related to net zero buildings and renewable energy.

“I’m looking forward to my journey post-graduation with the hope that I can contribute to a better and sustainable world,” says Gupta.

Since 2018, the “JUMP into STEM” (which stands for Join the discussion, Unveil innovation, Make connections, Promote tech-to-market) competition has inspired students from diverse backgrounds and an interdisciplinary mix of majors to address real-world building science issues using creative problem-solving skills.

The 2020–21 program year had the largest field of student projects to date. A total of 49 ideas were submitted from 144 students representing 29 different colleges and universities.

JUMP’s long-term goal is to increase the diversity of building science professionals so that many perspectives contribute to the clean energy transition.

For a complete list of winners and to learn more about “JUMP into STEM,” visit