STORIES

The Solar Decathlon Competition:
With Solar Decathlon, We’re All Winners

2009 Refract House
The 2009 Refract House. Photo by
Chuck Barry

What do you get when you take a team of enthusiastic, hardworking, idealistic undergraduates, pair them with a group of innovative, knowledgeable, tireless faculty and put them all to work on a project that changes thousands (if not millions!) of people’s minds about alternative energy? You get a bunch of winners, that’s what!

In both 2007 and 2009, Santa Clara University competed and took third place overall in the Solar Decathlon—a biennial competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy uniting twenty teams of college students to design, construct, and operate the most energy efficient, functional, and attractive solar-powered home. In each of the competitions, SCU beat out teams such as MIT, Cornell, Virginia Tech, and other heavyweights in engineering education, showcasing our entries on the National Mall in Washington, DC, while competing in ten contests ranging from energy balance to marketability.

The School of Engineering’s participation in the Solar Decathlon competition is just one example of our role in innovating solutions to energy challenges, and our belief in the value of project-based learning. By seating the responsibility for a positive outcome with the student team from the outset, we provided an opportunity for them to learn and lead and surpass even their own expectations. 

The 2007 Ripple House now serves as a test lab for energy monitoring systems. Read more.

The 2009 Refract House has recently been reassembled here on campus and will be instrumental in the School of Engineering's renewable energy initiative.