Students work with industry to create global homeschooling sustainability challenge



Primary and secondary schools across the UK are being challenged by students at Heriot-Watt University to design classrooms of the future.

Launched on Friday, March 20, the Class Of Your Own (COYO) Design Challenge 2020: The Esteem Pavilion[AM1] , invites enterprising youngsters to develop innovative new learning spaces with the environment in mind. Each design must consider how to live a greener, more sustainable life by using environmentally-friendly materials and renewable energy.

The competition is being jointly run between Heriot-Watt students in the Solar Decathlon team, and ground-breaking education programme, Design Engineer Construct® (DEC).

In this current pandemic and acknowledging the difficulties of working and schooling from home, teachers have found the challenge is great intermediary task for children to participate in while they plan and re-arrange their own curriculum to be taught virtually.

The students – Team ESTEEM who are finalists in this year’s Solar Decathlon Middle East - are inviting the next generation of graduates to work as a digital team.

The aim to create a centre which educates occupants of the ESTEEM house about environmentally conscious behaviours to suit the home in which they live.

The pupils aged from seven to sixteen have up until the 31st August to submit their entry of a digital model, scale model, plans and elevations and a professional report. These submissions will be judged by industry professionals working with DEC and members of Team ESTEEM themselves.

Professor Fiona Grant, Director of Learning and Teaching for School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, and Associate Principal for Student Learning Experience, Heriot-Watt University said: “Heriot Watt University are delighted to participate in this project providing the opportunities for pupils and students to work together, creatively, to address the environmental challenges we are facing.

“This is a very exciting project being undertaken on a global scale providing all involved with international multi-disciplinary opportunities, the skills being developed now will provide opportunities for future exciting careers in the built environment professions. We are providing the next generation with an opportunity to provide a legacy by contributing to this fantastic experience. We wish all involved immense success and we look forward to working with you”.

DEC is a ground-breaking digital learning programme that offers young people real-world experience and specialist skills such as structural engineering, surveying and architecture. Pioneered by Heriot-Watt University Honorary Doctorate COYO CEO Alison Watson, DEC brings together schools, universities and industry.

Heriot-Watt was the first university to accept DEC Level 2 qualifications as recognised entrance requirements without needing UCAS points.

Jessica Haskett, Student Team Leader of Team ESTEEM, 4th year Architectural Engineering said: “As an international team from a global university, the ability to inspire and see the work of future generations even younger than us is amazing. Impactful sustainability education is important for the fate of engineering and the success of STEM careers. Positive behaviours that develop the green construction agenda have a significant impact on climate change and the way we see the environment around us.”

Assoc Prof Alex MacLaren, leading the Heriot Watt Solar Decathlon bid, said “This international competition provides inspiration and education for pupils around the world at a time when their usual schooling has been stalled. We’re building on previous work with Heriot Watt students, schoolpupils and industry to provide engaging, aspirational project-based learning opportunities: and resources for teachers and parents.”

Winners of the COYO Challenge will be invited by the University to join Team Esteem and a team of HWU experts to take their designs to the next level! As global lockdown eases, it is also hoped that the competition winners will have the opportunity to visit the house in Dubai, or the prototype on our UK campus, and test some of the students’ construction innovations in person.

For more information on the challenge visit:

For more information on Team ESTEEM visit:

For more information on DEC visit:


Susan Kerr

Media Relations Officer