Solar Design Contest 2019-2020

Solarize UARK Campus


Background and Motivation

In an effort to prepare next-generation engineers to be skillful system designers and system thinkers, the System Integration and Design Informatics (SiDi) Laboratory from The Department of Mechanical Engineering is announcing the Solar Design Contest to challenge students to design cost-effective solutions for increased penetration of solar energy on UARK campus.

The contest will use a computer-aided design (CAD) based framework to cultivate knowledge in the field of solar energy and the capability of synthesizing knowledge from different disciplines. It is expected that design skills and design thinking practiced through this contest can enhance students hands-on design experience as well as support their long-term career development. The participants will be asked to engage in an authentic solar energy systems design for an on-campus architecture.


According to your design quality, you may receive up to $500.  The number of prizes awarded to each category will vary based on the actual number of contest entrants.  All who complete the challenge and attend the final session will receive a $5 Starbucks gift card.

  • 1st Place: $500
  • 2nd Place: $250
  • 3rd Place: $100


Follow Attachment 1 to finish this design contest. Detailed rules are provided in Attachment 2.

Judging Criteria

A qualified panel of judges comprising subject-matter experts will be selected. The judging panel will score finalist submissions according to the judging statements and criteria listed in Solar Contest Rules (see Attachment 2). Based on the scores, the judging panel will select a first-, second-, and third-place design. The judging panel makes their selections through a subjective evaluation based on their expertise and experience.

Key Dates and Timeline

  1. Kick-off meeting and information sessions: May 14.
  2. Design contest officially begins on May 15.
  3. Knowledge support sessions: May 17 and 18, 5:00 pm via MS Team.
  4. Deadline of deliverable: 7 days after receiving the contest package.
  5. Awarding ceremony: TBA.

Design Problem

  • Design Context: The University of Arkansas recently announced a Solarizing UARK Campus initiative. As a part of this initiative, assume you are are a solar developer and going to propose a cost-effective solar system solution for on-campus apartment complex and it’s adjacent parking lot. More information about the design problem can be found in Attachment 3.
  • Goal: Generate more than 1,000,000 kWh of electricity per year with a payback period shorter than 10 years.
  • Project Information: In this project, you will utilize pre-defined rooftop space and parking lot area to arrange the solar panels. The project’s lifetime is set to be 25 years. UARK has contracted with a utility company to sell the generated electricity at a guaranteed price of 18 cents per kWh for the next 25 years. The cleaning and maintenance cost per solar panel is $2 per year for each solar panel. The rack for mounting the solar panels costs $20 per solar panel. The interest rate on the bank loan to purchase and install the solar panels, racks, and supporting systems is fixed at 2.95% for 25 years. These parameters have been set in the Energy3D model.
  • Deliverable: 1) Your final CAD solution, i.e., the Energy 3D model of your design (the scratch model can be downloaded from Attachment 4). 2) Your conceptual design solutions in 2D sketch or any other drawings (see Attachment 9). 3) Design answer sheet (see Attachment 10). 4) Design report (see Attachment 11).

Design Platform

Please see the official website of Energy3D for more detail. Two tutorials are provided in this contest. See Attachments 4. A short video about sketch in Energy3D can be watched here. A users’ guide (outdated) can be downloaded here.

How To Enter

  1. No experience is required.
  2. Please register by following this link. For now, registration is open for anyone affiliated with UARK.
  3. This is an individual design challenge and one person will submit a registration in the above link by the registration deadline.


  1. Design Challenge Flowchart
  2. Kick-off Meeting Slides (YouTube video)
  3. The Design Problem
  4. Energy3D Tutorial
  5. Solar Science Info
  6. Energy3D Download Instructions
  7. Data Submission Instructions
  8. Design_Contest.ng3 (This file will be emailed to you)
  9. 2D sketch
  10. Design Answer Sheet
  11. Design Report
  12. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Design Contest Results

  1. Fall 2019 Design Contest
  2. Spring 2020 Design Contest