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ODU/HU Solar Decathlon Team Seeks Student Volunteers

Team Tidewater, a group of engineering students from Old Dominion University and architecture students from Hampton University who are competing in the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., is in need of some talented volunteers.

The ODU/HU team is looking for primarily upper-class students with skills in engineering, business, communications and Web design to help prepare for the competition, which will be held for two weeks in fall 2011 on the National Mall.

"Students must be passionate to join this effort and use their skills," said Paige Thomas, communications coordinator for Team Tidewater and an HU architecture student.

The Solar Decathlon team seeks students majoring in engineering (especially electrical and mechanical) who have building construction and management-related backgrounds, as well as students in business marketing, communications, environmental health and safety, accounting and finance, and Web development/graphic design/computer programming.

"This project provides opportunities for them to perform their skill, to gain valuable work experience in an interdisciplinary setting, become involved in the community and, best of all, learn more about building for our future," Thomas said.

That's what the Solar Decathlon is all about.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Solar Decathlon challenges teams of university students to design, build and operate the most affordable, attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

After a meeting at the Engineering Unplugged conference at ODU in 2009, Team Tidewater was formed.

The group's design for the competition, Unit 6 Unplugged, is the first step in the students' attempt to build a net-zero energy use apartment building for tight, urban quarters, something that could help ensure the efficiency of cities in the future.

The 20 finalist teams, which include entries from China, Belgium, Canada and schools from all over the United States, were chosen by a panel of engineers, scientists and experts from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Unit 6 Unplugged is envisioned as part of a six-unit, multifamily infill building for a central city site, with energy efficiency features such as a deep, shaded balcony that incorporates operable windows so it can be converted into a sunspace for use in cold weather, and a combined heat and power system that distributes water and power to the house.

Team Tidewater hopes that, eventually, a local builder will use or modify its design to produce full-scale units that can provide affordable housing in urban areas of Hampton Roads.

While the Solar Decathlon will continue until fall 2011, Team Tidewater leaders say opportunities are also available for help on shorter-term projects.

Students who are interested in participating in Team Tidewater's Solar Decathlon effort are asked to contact Paige Thomas at pahje8@gmail.com, or Solar Decathlon team chairman John Whitelaw, an ODU graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, at jwhit137@odu.edu.

Positions are limited. Students may be asked to provide portfolios or a record of experience for certain volunteer positions.


This article was posted on: July 12, 2010

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