The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it selected Missouri University of Science and Technology to compete in the 2020 Solar Decathlon. Missouri S&T is one of 11 teams selected from around the world.

Missouri S&T’s Solar House Design Team has started a two-year project to build a solar-powered, highly energy-efficient house that combines affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence.


“We are so excited about this upcoming competition and building upon what we have already done,” says Cherith Parnell, a junior in architectural engineering from Jasper, Missouri, and the Solar House Design Team associate project manager. “The team has already been working on a design that will incorporate what we have learned from past homes, while incorporating some of the latest in innovative smart renewable technologies from both here on campus and other places.”


Unlike past decathlons, organizers changed the competition to allow universities to design and build solar houses as stationary structures. The DOE no longer requires teams to transport homes to a central location for the competition. 


“This is a game changer,” says Ryanne Linn, a junior in civil and architectural engineering from Peculiar, Missouri, and the Solar House Design Team student project manager. “A major part of the competition is the cost associated with transportation of the home, the team, the lodging and more.” 


This will be the eighth time Missouri S&T has been selected to compete at the event – more than any other university in the world. The competition is currently scheduled for summer of 2020. 


The 2020 Solar Decathlon will be broken up into 10 challenges. They include energy performance, engineering, financial feasibility and affordability, resilience, architecture, operations, market potential, comfort and environmental quality, innovation and presentation.


“S&T Solar House members gain valuable experience through working with building consultants, and other team members,” says Dr. Heath Pickerill, director of the Local Training and Resource Center at Missouri S&T and co-faculty advisor for the team. “This type of experience is heavily sought after by companies who like to see this type of real-world exposure.” 


“The solar house project is a great inspiration for up and coming students who want to make a sustainable difference in the world,” says Dr. Stuart Baur, assistant chair of civil, architectural and environmental engineering and co-faculty advisor. 


The Solar House Design Team is one of the 20 student-run groups in Missouri S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC). The SDELC, housed in the Kummer Student Design Center, provides teams with computer design laboratories, a manufacturing shop, office space and logistical support. Design teams mirror small start-up companies that plan large-scale projects, organize into departments, raise funds, communicate their ideas and solve open-ended design challenges. Almost every team competes annually at an event against other collegiate teams from around the country and the world. For more information about the teams, visit