On January 12th, my lethargic winter break came to an abrupt end. Several Cornell students and I had been asked to speak at an alumni forum in New York City about the Cornell Solar Decathlon team (CUSD) and so we gathered in the morning at the KPF architecture studio in Manhattan to prepare our presentation material.
If you are not familiar, the Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition organized by the US Department of Energy to promote solar power and sustainable building strategies. Twenty universities from around the world design and build small homes to exhibit on the national mall in Washington, DC. Judges evaluate each project using a variety of criteria and assign points within ten different categories (architecture, engineering, and market viability to name a few). More information about the competition can be found at solardecathlon.org.
Last spring, the 2009 CUSD team selected a house design and established itself as the largest interdisciplinary student group on campus. Over the past several months (while some of us were studying in Rome), students in Ithaca worked diligently to develop the initial design concept into a comprehensive drawing set. This semester, we will tackle construction while continuing to fundraise and problem solve so that the house can be a success next fall. More information about the Cornell team can be found on the CUSD website.
The event in NYC offered us a great opportunity to meet Cornell Alumni and industry professionals willing to advise and sponsor our team. Over 100 people came to listen to students, professors, and young alumni speak about their involvement with Solar Decathlon. My friend Irina and I spoke about the design of the 2009 house and the team’s intention to bring something innovative and thought-provoking to the National Mall.
In the ten days that have passed since the alumni forum, I have had an equal number of meetings with CUSD. There is a torrent of activity as we finalize schedules, place orders, and coordinate a team of nearly 150 students representing all seven undergraduate colleges and the Johnson Graduate School of business. It will be interesting to see what so many minds can produce.