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Updates from Irvine: Team Middlebury at the Solar Decathlon

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Videos:

Inside InSite

Video Walk-Through

Construction Kick-Off (4/13)

Final Scores

Middlebury’s Solar Decathlon team is competing in Irvine, Calif. this year. We’ll follow their progress as they navigate through the assembly, competition and homecoming. Check back here for regular updates and take a look at the team’s Facebook page  and web site for more news. Follow them on Twitter: @MiddSD13.  Photos supplied by Team Middlebury unless otherwise noted.

 

10/12/13 – Congratulations! Team Middlebury Finishes 8th Overall

Team Middlebury poses for a photo with their third place award in the affordability contest. Photo courtesy Solar Decathlon.

Team Middlebury poses for a photo with their third place award in the affordability contest. Photo courtesy Solar Decathlon.

In a sea of graduate architecture and engineering programs, Middlebury was the tenacious liberal arts college that proved itself over and over, ending up with an 8th place finish in the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The D.O.E. announced the winners at a ceremony in Irvine, Calif. on Saturday, Oct. 11.

“Coming from our Liberal Arts background we are proud to be able to compete with the rest of the teams which are coming from architecture and engineering graduate programs,” said team manager Gwen Cook ’13.

Middlebury did very well in a series of scoring contests, with third place finishes in affordability, communications, and home entertainment. They nabbed 7th place in architecture and top 10 finishes in the other categories.

“The Solar Decathlon is inspiring and training the next generation of clean energy architects, engineers and entrepreneurs, and showing that affordable, clean energy technologies can help homeowners save money and energy today,” said D.O.E. Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Congratulations to the Solar Decathlon 2013 competitors – your hard work and creativity is helping to build a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”

“What an incredible accomplishment all of you have achieved over the past two years with InSite,” said President Ron Liebowitz in a  congratulatory note to the team, “capping it all off with a superb showing in Irvine.”

“To have been accepted into the competition, and then to place in the top 10, speaks volumes in a global-wide program that has become so competitive,”Liebowitz said. “The homes this year are remarkable, from top to bottom.”

Team Middlebury began the epic journey to Irvine in fall 2011 when it proposed its plan to the college, then later to the Solar Decathlon competition. Simply being selected among the highly competitive field of applicants is an honor in itself. Middlebury was among 20 teams selected to compete in 2013. Over the course of two years, students worked on everything from design and architecture to engineering, construction and communications. In September, 2013, they shipped their home by train to Los Angeles, where it was transported by truck to Irvine.

The 2013 Solar Decathlon wraps up Sunday, Oct. 13, after which the team will deconstruct the house and ship it back to Middlebury by rail and truck. The house will be reconstructed on a permanent site on Shannon Street in Middlebury, where it will serve as a student residence and educational resource.

10/10/13 – Two Big Contest Results

This was a big day for all of the teams because points were awarded in two of the ten contests. Middlebury had an excellent showing, achieving third place in the Affordability contest and fifth place in the Market Appeal contest. By the end of the day, with points tallied, Middlebury was nicely situated in fourth place overall. Fellow Vermont team Norwich University made their home state proud, tying for first place in affordability and moving up to 10th place overall.

10/9/13 – Team InSite Reflects on Challenges of Solar Decathlon

10/8/13 – Update from Team Manager Cordelia Newbury ’13

“Yesterday we had the communications and engineering walk-through. Jonah, Gwen, Joseph, and Ari all felt extremely proud and confident in their respective presentations and we look forward to hearing the results on those on friday and saturday respectively. This morning we had our architecture walk-through and the jury was extremely impressed by our liberal arts background and our holistic mission and design. We have the affordability and market appeal walk-through coming up and are excited for the juried contests to come into our scores as they will really help us in pulling ahead!

“The net metering has gone really well- we are keeping steady in our measured contests and are working to improve our processes to improve results. We are doing really well in our energy gain- this is especially important as we are going to enter into a cloudy few days where energy gain might reduce a bit, but we are feeling confident in our net metering right now.

‘The tours have also gone really well and we are getting fabulous feedback on our home- the public seems to think it is the most livable space and extremely accommodating of the needs of a family. For us, this is such an important piece of feedback as we want our ideas to spread as far as possible and to inspire sustainable design across the country. we have also gotten a few comments on our solar path, with families expressing interest in our drawings and specs  to build a solar path for themselves!”

10/7/13 – Photos and Scoring Update
Photos by Brendan Mahoney ’11

As of this posting, Middlebury is doing well in the standings after four contests. They have been as high as first place, but are currently in 10th with six contests left to go. It’s a rapidly changing picture, so keep an eye on them as their standing is likely to change again soon. To keep tabs on the scores and standings, click here.

10/3/13 – InSite Opens to the Public
Video by Matt Lennon ’13 and Brendan Mahoney ’11

10/3/13 – Welcoming the Media (Check out that barn board!)
Video by Matt Lennon ’13 and Brendan Mahoney ’11

10/2/13 – House is Completed – Inspection Time
Video by Matt Lennon ’13

10/1/13 – InSite is Nearly Finished
Photos by Brendan Mahoney ’11

9/30/13 – L.A. Times Features InSite

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9/27/13 – Video Recaps of Construction Progress
Videos by Team Middlebury

From the team: “The team in Irvine has been very busy this week. Yesterday they finished raising all of the exterior and interior walls of InSite, completing the form of our home. Today the team will work to place the deck panels and raise the Solar Path. For more photos of the construction process, make sure to check out our facebook page. The team has also been enjoying seeing all of the other teams’ designs coming to life, and we can’t wait to tour all of them!”

9/23/13 – Starting Assembly

From the team: “Started at 5:30 to pack our uhaul. We then got to the front of the line at 6:40 to get on site and met the sun with sun salutations led by Kate. Our crane was the first to set up and now we are waiting for our first container to come on site. Great start to assembly!!”

Later in the day, the team's foundation passed inspection and they were able to lower in the mechanical module.

Later in the day, the team’s foundation passed inspection and they were cleared to lower in the mechanical module.

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Middlebury students on the assembly team take a break from building the foundation for InSite.

Team members from Team Middlebury College Solar Decathlon 2013 and Team Kentuckiana Solar Decathlon 2013 warm up with a Sun Salutation while waiting to begin construction at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. (Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy) — at Orange County Great Park.

Team members from Team Middlebury College Solar Decathlon 2013 and Team Kentuckiana Solar Decathlon 2013 warm up with a Sun Salutation while waiting to begin construction at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. (Credit: Amy Vaughn/U.S. Department of Energy) — at Orange County Great Park.

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Middlebury’s assembly team waits at the “starting line” to begin work on InSite at Orange County Great Park.

9/22/13 – Arrival in Irvine

The assembly team and the container trucks carrying the house have arrived. Assembly begins Monday, Sept. 23.

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Team Middlebury arrives in California.

 

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Shipping containers carrying InSite were delivered by train to Los Angeles, then trucked to Orange County Great Park (above).

Midd’s Young Social Entrepreneurs Tell Stories from the Field

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
 

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Rabeya Jawaid ’16 opened her presentation in sign language.

Rabeya Jawaid ’16 launched her presentation without saying a word, yet no one in the crowded Axinn classroom could look away. Jawaid was speaking Pakistani sign language, making a visual point about the work she did with impoverished deaf women in Karachi over the summer. After a minute, she began to speak.

“As a Pakistani woman, I can tell you it’s not easy being a woman in Pakistan,” she said. “It’s definitely not easy being a poor woman in Pakistan. So I just want you to imagine what it’s like being a deaf poor woman in Pakistan.”

Jawaid said an internship at a deaf research center in Karchi a few years ago sparked her interest in sign language and deaf culture. She wanted to do something to promote financial independence among the women she met there, who had little prospect for employment.

Sitting in her Middlebury dorm room, Jawaid hatched an idea to train deaf women in sewing, screen-printing and embroidery, giving them entrée into Pakistan’s flourishing clothing industry. This past summer Jawaid successfully launched her skill development plan, hiring skilled trainers – conversant in sign language, of course – and recruiting trainees. Most importantly, she took meticulous notes so that future trainers could reproduce the process.

Her project was one of four funded in part by summer grants from Middlebury’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Students from each group shared their summer experiences with the campus community at the Axinn Center on Friday. The projects, which also took place in Chicago, Swaziland, and Burundi, were a chance to test out solutions to a range of social problems.

“We saw a lot of collaboration with community partners, which was really important,” said Heather Neuwirth, associate director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “Most of these projects had a component of going home to a community that was really understood. It was a way of saying, ‘I want to work with my community.’”

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Gaby Fuentes ’16 worked with teen girls in Chicago.

Gabriela Fuentes ’16 returned to her native Chicago to offer a week-long workshop of dance, writing, and discussion aimed at curbing issues of violence and high school dropout rates among young teen girls. She partnered with Middlebury dance professor Christal Brown to develop the program, which took place at a women’s center in Chicago that serves victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

A pair of students, Betty Kobia ’16 and Armel Nibasumba ’16, developed a week-long peace-building camp, called Twese for Peace, in post-war Burundi for high school and university students. They hope to expand the program in coming years to Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Watching Hutus and Tutsis openly discuss their frustrations and hopes for the future was a big win, said Nibasumba. “We were actually able to create that safe space where people made friendships and were free enough to break the taboo of discussing ethnicity.”

The final group, Platforms for Hope, told about their effort to design and build lap desks for schools in rural Swaziland. The four students — Mzwakithi Shongwe ’16, Jia Ying Teoh ’16, Adrian Leong ’16, and Roksana Gabidulina ’16 —used their grant funding to travel to Swaziland, and to manufacture and distribute the desks. They were pleased to find their desks were in high demand, which presented the new challenge of ramping up production and figuring out how to monetize desks throughout schools with varying abilities to pay. They’re also developing a version of the desk with solar lighting to be used in areas lacking electricity.

This was the second round of summer grants for the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Professor Jon Isham, director of the center, was impressed with the students’ work.

“I think what we saw above all was amazing leadership,” said Isham. “The projects had just the right level of ambition.”

For more information about the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship, visit: http://mcse.middlebury.edu/

Getting Comfortable at Middlebury

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
The Studio Art Tour was one of 68 trips offered during Orientation.

The Studio Art Tour was one of 68 trips offered during Orientation.

When a cluster of first-year students dropped by the art studio and gallery of Sarah Wesson last week, the local oil painter showed works she had created in Italy, Maine, New York City, and Vermont.

She discussed her painting technique and her feelings about abstract art, and then she paraphrased Henri Matisse. When buying a piece of art, Wesson said, it should feel like a comfortable chair.

At that moment Matisse’s metaphor of the comfortable chair was fitting on another level. The students were on an Orientation trip that was all about getting comfortable: comfortable with their peers, with the Champlain Valley region, and with each other as members of the Middlebury Class of 2017.

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Sarah Wesson

The Studio Art Tour group was one of 68 MiddView Trips that set out from Middlebury on Friday, Sept. 6. The trips, which were a required component of Orientation, were split into three categories: Vermont exploration, wilderness experience, and community engagement, and each trip was led by members of the sophomore, junior, or senior class.

Organizing the logistics for off-site excursions for some 629 first-year students was the responsibility of the Dean of Students Office with Amanda Reinhardt in the pivotal role of trips coordinator.

The shape of Orientation trips at Middlebury has been through many changes over the past decade, Reinhardt said, but in 2013 a combined commitment by students (in the form of financial support from the Student Government Association) and the Administration (in terms of staffing and all other resources) created the new, comprehensive MiddView Trips program.

“This year the trips were built right into the Orientation schedule. The members of the incoming class selected their top four choices, and we did our best to accommodate their requests. Almost without exception, every first-year student participated in a MiddView Trip,” Reinhardt said.

There were, for example, wilderness trips such as hiking portions of the Long Trail, rock climbing in Bolton, sailing on Lake Dunmore, and canoeing on Tupper Lake. There were community engagement experiences at the John Graham Emergency Shelter for Addison County’s homeless and at Zeno Mountain Farm in Lincoln, a program that supports lifelong friendships for people with and without disabilities. And there were Vermont exploration trips designed to investigate local ecology, storytelling and folklore, rhythm and dance, and food systems in the Green Mountain State.

Anne Cady '73

Anne Cady ’73

After spending an hour with Sarah Wesson in the Battell Block, the Studio Art Tour set out for Bristol to meet Anne Cady, who has her studio and gallery in a former grist mill located behind a row of storefronts on Main Street.

Inside Cady’s spacious studio the students sat on stools and boxes in a semicircle around the artist and introduced themselves. They hailed from U.S. cities like Tucson and Buffalo and Los Angeles, and from China and Colombia and the United Kingdom, and all of the students, regardless of their hometowns, shared a deep interest in art.

Cady discussed her own background as an art teacher and gallery owner, and explained that she didn’t explore her full potential as a painter until the 1990s. “Now if I don’t paint every day, I lose my momentum. And I love to paint every day. But if you are doing this as your work, your income, then you have to realize that the business side of it will take a lot of energy too, so you have to balance that out.”

Surrounded by her recent paintings of hilly Vermont landscapes, the 1973 Middlebury graduate said, “For me it’s all about color and composition. Having clarity and a clean line help me go a little more wild with the color. I concentrate on form and color to tell a story in each of my paintings.”

Following a detour for ice cream at Lu Lu’s in Bristol, the next stop on the Studio Art Tour was Daniel and Dennis Sparling’s studio located a quarter-mile down a long dirt driveway in New Haven. Dennis, the father, is primarily a metal sculptor. He said “having practical artistic skills allows you to do the passion work,” and he showed the first-year students some examples of both: the things he does for money and the pieces he creates for the love of art.

Daniel, the son, inherited many of his father’s talents but has branched off into designing and building specialty masks, castings, and prosthetics for independent filmmakers. Most recently Daniel has been shooting aerial cinematography with his business partner — lavish sweeping shots for television commercials, films, and private enterprises. The partners have built a number of remote-controlled aircraft (“Okay, you can call them drones,” Daniel said) that will fly with a 10-pound video camera, which is also remote controlled from the ground.

Daniel Sparling

Daniel Sparling

“It’s tough to make a living as an artist. You have to swallow your pride a lot of times and take jobs you never thought you would have to take. But it also helps to be handy, to be able to do a lot of different things. The way I see it,” Daniel said, “Art is 60 percent tenacity and drive, and 40 percent talent.”

On Sunday the Studio Art Tour continued with leader-led activities and reflection, and concluded with a visit to the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury and a debriefing session.

“Bonding” is a term often used in reference to Orientation trips, regardless of whether it’s a strenuous hike in the Adirondacks or a visit to the organic farms of Addison County. Derek Doucet, Middlebury’s director of outdoor programs and club sports, put it a little differently when he said, “Intimate small-group experiences provide opportunities for students to make genuine connections across typical social boundaries.”

“They also offer to first years a welcome chance to catch their breath before delving into the semester, and they provide space for intentional reflection about what it means to be in this time of transition to college.”

Welcoming First-Years on Move-in Day

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

It’s a scene almost as familiar as Old Chapel itself: First-year students and their families pulling up to Battell Hall after a long drive, nervous and excited, ready to dive into life at Middlebury. We caught a few of these scenes as the Class of 2017 arrived.

Summer Scene: First Look at InSite

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

Nearly 100 Middlebury students  had a hand in planning, designing, and building InSite, the college’s entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition. This weekend the public will get their first look at the results of all that work as the team hosts an open house in their newly finished home before they ship it out to California. We met with some of the team leaders this week for a sneak preview.

Summer Scene: Life in Two Languages

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

There’s never a dull moment for Middlebury Language Schools bilingual assistants — even if at times they might wish for a few. On any given day, they’re planning special events, coaching sports, setting up concerts, or solving myriad problems that help students stick to the famous language pledge: No English Spoken Here!  And through all of it, they transition seamlessly between the school’s language and English (where allowed, of course). Middlebury Magazine caught up with Joe Tamagni, a bilingual for the Italian School, to get a taste of his hectic pace and why he loves it so much!

Summer Scene: Campus Beauty

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

Middlebury’s fickle summer weather is captured dramatically — and beautifully — in this time lapse of campus scenes. This is a debut piece for Matt Lennon ’13, who recently joined the college communications office as a graduate intern.