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UMD Advances to Finals of Department of Energy’s Solar District Cup

By Maggie Haslam

An interdisciplinary team from the University of Maryland has won a finalist slot in the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual Solar District Cup.

UMD was one of 35 teams from 34 collegiate institutions (progressing from the original 59 teams from 57 institutions) in the United States selected to advance to the finals and vie for solar victory in April.

“The students put forth an amazing effort to get over this first hurdle,” said team advisor Bryan Quinn, director of technical operations for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Research in Electronics & Applied Physics.

Team Maryland includes graduate and undergraduate students and professional advisors from the A. James Clark School of Engineering; School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; Robert H. Smith School of Business; and other disciplines across campus.

The Solar District Cup challenges teams to design and model an optimized renewable energy system to power an assigned, real-world campus or urban district. The UMD team’s site, the University of Central Florida, offers a sun-soaked yet complicated terrain that will require the team to balance solar photovoltaic placement with preservation of the campus’s forest edge.

The Solar District Cup is directed and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Maryland hopes to add a competition win in April to its remarkable solar-powered track record: Over the past 15 years, UMD has participated in five solar decathlons, placing second twice, including in 2017, and taking top prize in 2011.

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