The Solar Decathlon

Categories: Student Life, Vermont

This year I’ve been working on the Middlebury College Solar Decathlon Team.  The Solar Decathlon is a Department of Energy sponsored greenbuilding competition that challenges college students from around the world to design and build 100% solar-powered homes.  Last year, a team of students from the College submitted a proposal and was selected as one of the 20 finalists!

We’re competing against 19 teams from all over the country—California, Florida… and the world—China, Belgium, and more.  Middlebury is the only small-liberal arts college to ever compete on its own in this competition, and our home is named “Self-Reliance,” after the essay by Emerson.  I’ve been planning events for our team, including the Fall Family Weekend Open House, the Homecoming Weekend Open House, and am looking forward to some events in J-Term as well.  In a few weeks, our design sketches and architectural renderings will be on display in 51 Main, and in January and February we’ll be featured in Town Hall Theater for the “Home in Vermont” exhibit.

This project epitomizes the liberal arts to me.  There are over 70 students involved in the project, majoring in over 20 different departments.  We have physicists, chemists, writers, economists, architects, political scientists, athletes, musicians, and artists working on this project.  We have $500,000 to raise.  We have less than a year to build this house, and construction starts in April.  We’ll finish it over the summer, and then it’ll get trucked to Washington, D.C. and reassembled on the National Mall in just seven-days’ time.  We’ll compete in the ten competitions of the Decathlon, and then bring our home back to Middlebury, where it’ll be a permanent fixture on campus.  We don’t have a graduate level architecture or engineering program like many of the other competing teams do.  We’ve never taken on a challenge like this before.  But the interdisciplinary approach that we’re taking to this competition is our biggest strength, and I’m enjoying this project more than any other activity I’ve ever gotten to be a part of on campus.  Tomorrow we have an enormous portion of our design due to the DOE, and I am so proud of everyone who’s working hard to make this all come together. I couldn’t be prouder of the other students I’m working with—Middlebury kids really know how to rise to the occasion, and this is such a clear example of the talent, drive, and energy that makes Middlebury what it is.

For more information about the project, please visit our (student designed and managed) website!

http://solardecathlon.middlebury.edu/

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