Solar Decathlon Europe is an international competition among universities which promotes interdisciplinary learning in engineering and architecture. Students from different disciplines participate in teams guided by several professors during a 29 month preparation period plus five weeks of on-site contest. The educational project involves designing, building and testing a solar energy house connected to the electrical grid with the strategy of maximizing self-consumption, supported by bioclimatic technologies and maintaining a low environmental footprint. It culminates in a on-site contest in which teams must assembly the house themselves, test it with ordinary real life tasks and finally disassembly it. The event has also a divulgative aim, trying to make students and visitors get interested in discovering the problems presented by real engineering and architecture applications. In addition, SDE covers R&D aspects in different fields such as energy efficiency, solar energy and bioclimatic architecture. This article presents the methodology followed during the SDE 2012 edition, in which more than 850 students participated. The obtained results show that the educational competition was a success according to the technical and professional ambitions of the students, most of them considering that their knowledge had increased in areas related to technical and multidisciplinary aspects. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.