A group of University of Utah-led students, including electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidates Xiang Huo and Xinyang Rui, School of Architecture undergraduate Samantha Eddy and Civil Engineering Ph.D. student Xinyan Liu, is one of four teams to win the 2022 JUMP into STEM final competition hosted by the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office. The team, named Build-Up-Navajo, took first place in the Resilience for All in the Wake of Disaster category during the initial challenge in December 2021 before being invited to compete in the final competition. Winners of the prestigious award are offered paid internships at National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, or the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The two-day event also provided opportunities for the students to network with academia and industry professionals during career panels, a past winners panel, and more. 

The event is the largest competition held to date, with 84 ideas submitted from 251 students at 27 different schools across the country and is the first time a University of Utah team has participated. The nationally recognized competition invited students to develop inclusive and holistic building solutions focused on equal access to healthy indoor air quality, resilience for all, and accelerated market adoption. The team’s project, “Advancing Resilient Communities in Remote Areas,” focuses on improving the quality of life of the people of the Navajo chapter, Dennehotso, by providing reliable electricity and internet connectivity, improved air quality and indoor comfort, and uninterrupted food supply, especially during natural and man-made disasters.

“Our proposal addresses the energy inequality of the Navajo Nation through the advancement of technology and culture,” Huo said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished in this project and believe that this type of work is essential to the resiliency of remote communities.”

Electrical and computer engineering assistant professors Mingxi Liu and Mostafa Sahraei-Ardakani as well as school of architecture associate professor Shundana Yusaf and civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Jianli Chen supervised the students throughout the project, contributing to its notability and success. The team also received support from Dr. Franci Lynne Taylor, Former Director of the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) at the University of Utah.

We are thrilled to congratulate each of this year’s winners on their exceptional teamwork and well-deserved success. The achievement is a reflection of their hard work and creative problem-solving. For more information on their project, read the team’s initial story, “Students Address Resiliency in Remote Communities.”