Team Maryland began its participation in the Solar Decathlon 2011 in November 2009. Over the course of this student-led project, students have been aided by the guidance of faculty, mentors, and professionals from the initial conceptual designs through the completion of a fully functional, solar-powered house. While the highlight of this process is the competition itself, there is a strong focus on educating the next generation of leaders. Creative interdisciplinary interaction between academic and practical settings in design studios and seminars advance the professional knowledge base of solar and sustainable design through academic research, giving students the opportunity to develop expertise in an important and emerging field.