WPI to Send Team to Participate in Solar Decathlon

U.S. Department of Energy to hold 2013 competition in China for the first time
March 08, 2012

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has been selected as one of 24 International teams to participate in The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition next year in China. This is a highly competitive and award-winning program that challenges university teams to design, build and operate zero-energy houses powered by the sun.

Over the course of the 2012-2013 academic year, WPI students will be able to work on the project and learn more about energy efficient and sustainable construction methods, as part of their Major Qualifying Project (MQP), Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), or independent study courses.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our students to be engaged in a multi-university project that challenges them to design and construct a sustainable, energy-efficient solar house," said team co-leader Tahar El-Korchi, professor and head of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at WPI.

"This is ideal for our project-based educational program and our new architectural engineering program, where multidisciplinary IQP and MQP teams will tackle all aspects of energy efficiency, sustainable design, construction and communication."

Since the launch of the Solar Decathlon in 2002, five competitions have been hosted in the U.S. and Europe. In 2013, the competition will be held in China for the first time, as part of the Sino-U.S. energy collaborative programs; it is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy and the China National Energy Administration. The competition will be organized in part by Peking University, but will take place in Datong. The 24 university teams will build their houses, display them to the public and engage in a competition with the other participating teams. Some students engaged with the project will travel to China to attend project related workshops, and to build the house in the summer of 2013.

WPI is part of an international, multi-university team with members from Ghent University in Belgium and New York University Polytechnic Institute. WPI will be the lead institution and the house will be constructed at the WPI campus by faculty and students during the 2012-2013 academic year. Students in WPI's new Architectural Engineering program will design most aspects of the solar house, including architectural design, structural design, mechanical and electrical systems and energy modeling, using Building Information Modeling to integrate design, construction and project management. The solar house will be built in Worcester and then shipped to China for reconstruction for the competition.