Solar Decathlon Project

Here is a message that SEEDS has received from Austin, a student in Aerospace Engineering at Carleton. He’s looking to diversify the Solar Decathlon Team. If you are interested, you can email Austin at

Here is the message:

“The solar decathlon is a solar house design competition held by the US department of energy. There’s a lot of information on the website ( and you can take a look at the current teams for the 2011 competition. The way things are structured at Carleton is it’s a three year long project with three distinct stages. Currently we’re nearing the end of the conceptual design phase, next year will be the detailed design phase, and the final year will be construction and testing. 

The project involves researching, designing, simulating, building and testing systems. I have enjoyed the project a lot because I know that the decisions I make have a real impact and I will see my designs beign built. Also, green building design is not trivial, there are so many variables and it’s difficult to optimize all the factors, for instance we have to balance engineering, marketability, cost, weight (because the house has to be shipped), and environmental impact. So it is a very realistic senario, and it provides a good experience that will stand out on a resume.

There are two issues with the project that need to be fixed. The first is that there is usually a steep learning curve. For example, it took us the first four months of the project to understand what we needed to do, and about two more months to get good at it. So we need 3rd year students to get involved now to understand what’s going on so the project will get rolling quickly in the fall. That is the main reason I’m emailing. The second thing (and I don’t know if this is applicable or not) is that we only have mech, aero and architecture students at the moment, and, while those diciplines are good and necessary, our focus has been too narrow. We need a greater range of skills as there are definitely things in our blindspot that we have not considered.

The cool thing is that this industry is really about the explode, there is so much room for growth in this area. I decided I wanted to switch career paths after joining this project once I realized that you could reduce the energy use of a building at code to half without any extra cost, just in the method of building. So, it’s definitely useful experience. […]


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Filed under Competition, Renewable Energy

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