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  •  Day 1 Construction: Experience Counts

    Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013

    Yesterday the team hit the ground running. Up at 5:30 a.m., they were ready to go when the gates to The Great Park opened at 7 allowing the Solar Decathletes in to begin installing their solar-powered homes. But, really, their preparations for this moment began in earnest last week here on campus as Professor Hight led the team through a step-by-step rundown of the installation process. Every detail was considered--what would need to be done in what order, what tools would be needed, how those tools would be organized, who was working on each aspect of the installation...and the list went on.

    This is where experience really pays off, and SCU's past forays into the competition (3rd Place finishes in both 2007 and 2009—we took 2011 off to concentrate on our School of Engineering Centennial) gave the Radiant House team, led by veteran faculty advisors Tim Hight and Fr. Jim Reites, the kind of insider know-how other teams could only dream of. Plus, this team of undergraduate students has been working on every inch of their house from the very beginning. They are not coming into this cold--this is their project, their home, their honor at stake, and they are off to a great start.

    Fr. Reites reports: "We have been the envy of Decathlete Way! First day, we had the modules together by 4 p.m. We have almost totally offloaded the deck trailer and the deck will begin to go in today. The inter-module data connections are done; the hydronic connections, done; the domestic water, done; the appliances' installation, done! It was a good 'done' day!"

  •  The Latest from Rainy D.C.

    Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009

    It is cold and rainy in D.C. – not ideal conditions for generating solar power! The team is a little downhearted this morning watching our lead slip as homes with more PV are adding up points at a faster pace under these cloudy conditions. Prof. Tim Hight reports, “Realistically, given the weather conditions, it will be very difficult to maintain our lead, but we will keep fighting. It will be tough to overcome Germany’s advantage in power.” (Germany’s house is covered in PV, so it is able to maximize its capability to capture energy.) But then Dr. Hight adds with a shrug, “Stranger things have happened!” Kadee Mardula, SCU ’11, notes, “Our position all along has been that sustainability and ‘green’ living doesn’t have to involve compromise or sacrifice, so we designed Refract House to be energy efficient, but also beautiful and very livable.” It’s true; walking past all the homes on the National Mall yesterday, the Dean of Engineering Godfrey Mungal and I were blown away with how stunning Refract House is—photos and videos don’t do it justice!

    Yesterday, the team spent the day sharing their message with Representatives from Congress Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren, and Sam Farr (Monterey), and Senators Boxer and Feinstein. While a few of the students and faculty members had a great meeting with Sen. Feinstein, the others rode in a little underground train traveling between the Senate Office Building and the Capitol for a photo with Sen. Boxer in the President’s Room. Years ago, this elegant room was used for signing treaties—it was a privilege to be afforded this rare visit. The team also enjoyed a tour of the Capitol. While waiting for the tour to begin, Preet Anand (SCU ’10) conducted a live radio interview via cell phone—our students are ready at any moment to spread the word! The Capitol  tour included a short film about Congress, and I was struck by these words: “Answers in America come from not one voice, but many.” Isn’t that what the Solar Decathlon is all about? Our SCU students and faculty have joined their voices with those from California College of the Arts to form a partnership that has transformed both engineers and architects. As a team, they have joined their voices with those from 19 other colleges and universities gathered in Washington for this competition with the goal of changing how the world views and uses energy. Tomorrow, the final results will be announced and 20 teams will come away winners.


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