February 17, 2015
Drury University and Crowder College continue to make headway on their Solar Decathlon project. The Decathlon is the U.S Department of Energy’s national competition challenging selected college teams to build solar-powered homes as a way of educating students and the public about the benefits and viability of renewable energy.
“The Solar Decathlon is an incubator for solar energy,” says Evan Melgren, a team member from Drury. “By tasking young and creative engineers to implement this technology, the Department of Energy is nurturing the possibilities presented by one of the most consumer-viable sources of renewable energy. By requiring the tech to be designed into a real home, they’re showing just how appealing the energy source is.”
Drury has partnered with Crowder College in Neosho, a state community college offering programs in renewable energy, to take a multi-disciplinary approach to design, build, and operate an off-the-grid home. There are about 50 Drury students with various majors involved in the project.
In recent weeks the team has gained professional feedback, created 3D models of its design and met numerous competition deadlines. One requirement was to generate a 63-page package of drawings displaying the house from every angle, including elevation drawings and the workings of the entire electrical system.
In January, a few members of the Crowder/Drury team traveled to Irvine, California – the site of the final showdown this October – for industry feedback on the project. Working professionals evaluated the project and had praise for the designs, especially the electrical schematics and the health and safety plans.
“I can’t say how fortunate we all felt that we were able to go to California and be in the presence of such forward thinking engineers and designers who really care about ecologically conscious design,” Melgren says. “The energy was like nothing else I’ve ever been a part of.”
They also had the opportunity to meet some of the other teams in the competition, including the likes of Yale, Vanderbilt and Missouri S&T.
“The biggest takeaway from Cali was the fact that it made the whole project feel a lot more real,” says Alaa Al-Radwan, a Drury team member. “Getting to meet the other teams and seeing everyone’s progress made us only want to work harder.”
With plans now finalized, the next major requirement is to build the house locally (it will be deconstructed, shipped to Irvine and rebuilt for the competition this fall). The construction will take place on the Crowder campus in Neosho, before the house is then deconstructed, shipped to Irvine and rebuilt on the competition site.
For more information about the Crowder/Drury Solar Decathlon project, including sponsorship and donor opportunities, visit shelter.drury.edu.
Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.