Dec. 20, 2022, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The American-Made Solar Prize, a multimillion-dollar competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has selected 20 teams to advance in Round 6 of the prize as semifinalists, including CRACK CATCHER AI – the Oregon Renewable Energy Center (OREC) team at Oregon Tech. Each team won $50,000 in cash prizes and is eligible to continue to the next phase of the competition, which is designed to energize U.S. solar innovation.

OREC entered the competition with the CRACK CATCHER AI (artificial intelligence), a system of lasers and artificial intelligence to assess mechanical stress on PV (photovoltaic) cells inside solar modules, sensing and predicting fracturing in high volume PV manufacturing.

Representing Oregon Tech are OREC Director and Assistant Professor Arief Suriadi Budiman, Ph.D., as the Main Principal Investigator (PI); Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Instructor Derrick Speaks, Ph.D.; and Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Professor Tim Pasang, Ph.D.

“To enable more solar manufacturing in the United States, CRACK CATCHER AI enables smarter, more innovative way to sense and predict cracks in silicon solar cells using scientific principles, which has not been possible hitherto and will then lead to higher manufacturing yield as well as quality, and secure U.S. competitiveness in solar PV manufacturing worldwide,” PI Budiman said.

In the next phase of the competition, teams will advance with the assistance of members of the American-Made Network to develop their innovations in a way that addresses real challenges in the solar market. OREC will continue working to substantially advance its technology solution toward a viable and promising proof of concept, which they will discuss with a panel of industry experts at the Set! Demo Day virtual event in spring 2023.

About Oregon Institute of Technology

Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) is the premier polytechnic university in Oregon. Offering bachelor’s, master’s and soon a doctoral degree, Oregon Tech has exceptional programs in engineering, health technologies, business, technology, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through applied, relevant learning and professional practice. Oregon Tech has a central, residential campus in Klamath Falls; an urban, industry-focused campus in Portland-Metro (Wilsonville); an online campus; and offers degrees at Salem, Boeing Seattle, as well as at other sites. Visit to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology.

About the American-Made Solar Prize
The American-Made Solar Prize is a multimillion-dollar prize competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation through a series of contests that accelerate the entrepreneurial process from years to months. Competitors leverage the American-Made Network, our innovation engine of more than 300 organizations, including world-class experts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national labs, clean tech accelerators, incubators, universities, facilities, and more. The Solar Prize is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more.