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Student in renewable energy camp lends design assistance to Solar Decathlon '15
7/10/14

Over the next year and a half, students on 20 teams representing a number of disciplines, from environmental engineering to mathematics to mass communications, will design, fund, and build a solar-powered, net-zero home, test it, disassemble it, and transport it for competition in fall 2015 at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015 at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, CA.

One of those teams is made up of students from Alfred University (AU) and Alfred State College (ASC). Their task is to build a solar-powered, highly energy-efficient house that combines affordability, innovation, and design excellence. The competition is based on architecture, interior design, construction, engineering, media, and market appeal.

The AU/ASC team will be competing against students from institutions ranging from Clemson University, New York College of Technology and Stanford University to the State University of New York at Buffalo, California Polytechnic State University and Yale University.  

“The Solar Decathlon can be a positive, life-changing experience for participating students,” said Richard King, the program director. “In addition to developing leadership, team spirit, and problem-solving skills, this competition bridges formal education with hands-on experience that helps decathletes excel once they enter the workforce.”

This summer, the AU/ASC team has had some assistance from area high school student Cameron Schmidt who will be a sophomore at Canaseraga Central School this fall. Schmidt participated in the summer Renewable Energy Camp where he became involved with the solar house design. He looked at the Solar Decathlon 2013 House, currently in Wellsville, and examined designs made by the AU/ASC team this past spring before recommending changes to roofing and the placement of each room including an electric car garage charging station, said Xingwu Wang, AU professor of electrical engineering and an adviser to the AU/ASC Solar Decathlon 2015 team.

Following his summer camp experience at AU, Schmidt wrote: “One common issue that has brought nations together or driven them to competition is energy and how to alter today’s main usage of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. When most people hear presentations about renewable energy, they start thinking what is the price included to install these renewable energy systems? Most people do not realize the upfront cost will pay off in the long run, and they might be able to live “off the grid”, and even formulate enough electricity to make a profit!”