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Solar Decathlon Opening Ceremonies

Santa Clara University Getting Its Day in the Sun for the 2009 Solar Decathlon

As hundreds of students from across the U.S. and around the world prepare to prove that their 800-square-foot solar-powered home is the most energy-efficient house under the sun, the spotlight will shine on a Santa Clara University student. Student project manager Allison Kopf will help kick-off the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., on October 8. She’ll join Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Director Richard King, and another student from Ohio State University on the National Mall, where 20 student-built homes will be on display for the international competition.

Members of the teams interested in giving an opening ceremony speech had to submit a draft by Sept. 1. Two weeks later, Allison received the good news.

“Richard King called me early in the morning on Friday to tell me that he wanted me at the opening ceremony. I screamed a little bit,” she said. “I’m very excited but also really nervous, because so many people are going to be there.”

But Kopf wasn’t the only one who jumped for joy. She called Fr. Jim Reites, S.J., an SCU faculty member who helped the students build the solar house. “When I told him that I got it, he put the phone down and started screaming, too,” she laughed.

Her teammates were also happy about the announcement, because they say the event is one more opportunity to attract international attention before the competition begins. Santa Clara University students and their house have already been featured in dozens of articles, including in the October issue of Popular Mechanics, Huffington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

The students are on their way to meet their house in Washington, D.C., where it will arrive on three flatbed trucks. They’ll then reassemble it, reapply the finishing touches, and practice giving tours to the judges and the public.

The Solar Decathlon takes place on the National Mall Oct. 8-16. The students will compete against 19 other college/university teams from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Puerto Rico, and Spain. This is second time the DOE selected Santa Clara University to participate in the Solar Decathlon. During the last competition in 2007, Santa Clara placed third.