Santa Clara University



2009 Solar Decathletes

In early January more than a dozen SCU and California College of the Arts (CCA) students and faculty advisors headed to Washington, D.C., for a workshop to prepare them for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. SCU’s School of Engineering, third-place finisher in the 2007 event, has teamed up with CCA to participate in the October competition with 19 other college and university teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

Student project manager Allison Kopf related the team’s excitement: “With all the hard work we have already put in, and with the competition looming, it was inspiring to stand on the spot where we will display our house and see the Capitol and the Washington Monument. It was very motivating being in D.C. and it was important also from an educational standpoint. We got a lot of good input from people who will actually be judging the competition. They really liked our design and were interested to see how different this entry is from our 2007 house. Plus, they loved the collaboration between our team of engineers from SCU and architects from CCA; it’s sort of an idealization of how things should be in real life.”

Dr. Tim Hight, faculty project leader, agrees that the team returned with renewed enthusiasm for the project. “The reality of the scope of the competition and the challenges it brings really set in and there is a heightened level of activity as we prepare to begin construction in mid-March,” he said. Students are hard at work finalizing every aspect of the design and continue to research and implement innovative technologies.

“In the next few weeks, we will be busy obtaining permits, working with vendors, and preparing the construction site,” said Kopf. “We are so excited. We’re ready, too!”

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