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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.

sdirvine-assembly_day_one_sunrise

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.

sdirvine-assembly_team_palmtree_650

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).

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: 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: Bread Loaf School of English

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

On a beautiful July afternoon, we asked students at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont to tell us what course they were most excited about this summer. Some had a hard time choosing, but there was no shortage of enthusiasm. Here’s what they told us:

Dining Delights: Tell Us One Thing

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

With the current issue of Middlebury Magazine dedicated to all things food, we asked a group of Middlebury seniors – just before graduation – what they’ll miss most from the dining halls. We heard everything from burger day to vegan riblets. Here’s what they told us:

More “Tell Us One Thing” videos here.

Bringing Sounds of Africa to Middlebury

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video
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Sounds of Africa
Professor Damascus Kafumbe—ethnomusicologist, performer, composer—teaches students what music means to world cultures and how to perform the music of his own.

Back in Uganda, Damascus Kafumbe’s mother would wonder why he took so long to bring water back from the village well. It seems the well was too convenient to two Buganda royal enclosures where a young boy peeking through reed walls to watch court musicians could lose track of time. By age 11 Kafumbe was performing with a noted Ugandan troupe. He continued his studies with Buganda royal musicians and other masters throughout Africa, learning the subtleties of diverse cultures’ songs and dances; he also perfected the skills to craft traditional instruments. Another lesson, which he immediately makes clear to his Middlebury students today: “In all the African languages I’m familiar with, there is no word for ‘music.’ It’s such an integral part of life that we don’t have a word for it.” Even “African music” is a misnomer in such a culturally varied continent, says the affable, soft-spoken Kafumbe. As an ethnomusicology scholar, he settles for “African musics”; as an artist, he counts on his teaching and playing to evoke what English can’t translate.

“Damascus is the stunningly right person in the right place at the right time,” says Greg Vitercik, chair of the department of music. Middlebury wanted to give due attention to non-Western traditions, and ideally wanted a performing ethnomusicologist to bring some of them to life on campus. Kafumbe, also a composer, arranger, and ensemble director, was a hand-in-glove fit.

His arrival in 2011 as an assistant professor opened a path for students to explore  musics they might only know through a Putumayo collection or YouTube video. They learn how Balinese gamelan, Nuyorican rumba, Irish fiddling, and Hindustani raga reflect and relate to the cultures, politics, economics, and religions of their societies. Student musicians with scholarly leanings can learn ethnomusicological research methods and techniques. Those wanting to pursue African musics in greater depth have a teacher who knows them in his bones.

“OK, so what do chimurenga and bikutsi have in common metrically?” he asks his African Soundscapes students after playing recordings of the two genres.

“Three-quarter time,” answers a student, correctly.

This survey course routinely shatters preconceptions that “African music” means drums and hand-clapping. Students examine traditions from the northern Maghreb to the southern Bantu cultures: songs that exalt kinship, encourage trance, or inspire dancing. “I had no idea!” is a common student reaction to this cultural kaleidoscope. Throughout, Kafumbe reminds them, “The ‘why’ is more important than the ‘how.’” Yes, they learn to distinguish different genres, but they also learn to hear the mix of ancient traditions and more modern responses to Africa’s tribal migrations, colonial rule, missionization, and surges for freedom.

“I’m proud that Middlebury can be one of the few institutions to promote the idea that African musics are not just drumming,” Kafumbe says. Students who want to feel Africa’s layered rhythms and distinct timbres in their fingers can take his African Music and Dance Performance course (there are dozens on the waiting list, notwithstanding an 8:00 a.m. start time and mandatory attendance.) With no audition, students learn to play an ensemble of traditional, mostly Ugandan instruments, some of which Kafumbe has crafted himself from natural materials such as animal hide and hair, Ugandan woods, fibers, reeds, and seed shells. For most of the students, mornings spent with the ndingidi (tube-fiddle), madinda (xylophone), or other instruments is their first experience playing music. (see slideshow to hear concert selections.)

In a dress rehearsal before the ensemble’s spring concert, Kafumbe gets the students’ attention by clapping a rhythm that they repeat. “When I am talking, no one is talking, no one is playing, please,” he says softly. He shakes a pair of nsaasi (gourd shakers) to start them in a piece he composed by blending modern and traditional elements. The students strike, bow, and pluck their instruments; the sound is lively but slightly ragged. “Oh, you’re slowing down,” he warns, and stops them.

He leans forward. “Music is a sweet thing. We have to feel it. We have to enjoy it, and we have to express it.” When they begin again, the loose ends have knit together. “I have never heard any of my American students play the madinda with such a sweet tone,” he compliments.

For graduating physics major Joe Putko ’13, this introduction to playing music has been unforgettable. “We miss out on these sounds in America—but I’m so grateful we can have this experience now,” he says during a break. “This class was a history class, a gym class, a performance class, but more than anything I’ve taken here it’s taught us to work and struggle together. It’s been a life class.”

Kafumbe closes the rehearsal on a musical high note that will carry into the next night’s packed performance. “When you are struggling—that’s when you make magic,” he reassures them. “I’ll love you guys till I die.”

 

Removal of “Bubble” Clears Way for New Field House

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

Middlebury Athletics said goodbye to a popular local landmark this week with the removal of its inflatable field house, a.k.a. “the bubble.” But now the campus community is looking forward to a new permanent field house. For more details about this project and the new squash facility under construction see this story in the Middlebury News Room.