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We are in!!!

April 16, 2010

I am very pleased to inform you that the UT CoAD entry Team Tennessee Living Light has been accepted into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon for 2011. The UT entry, a collaborative effort of faculty, students and numerous disciplines/units, including participation by Oak Ridge National Laboratories, was selected as one of twenty participants, out of a much larger pool, from an international competition call last year. The final project, to be developed over the next year, will be exhibited on the National Mall in Washington, DC, in fall, 2011. Please join in congratulating Team Tennessee!


Update and Schematic Design

January 31, 2010

NEWS: Team Tennessee Solar Decathlon 2010 Schematic Design Meeting Art and Architecture Building Reading Room 103 (large double height space). Wednesday, February 3, 2010 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM!

All are welcome who want to participate in this informal meeting! Currently graphic design, architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering are on board, but many other positions will need to be filled after we submit and have been accepted into the final stage by April.

We also have been installing the railing in our Prototype and soon we will be working on making it a fully operational testing, office, and display space.

Looking Forward

December 8, 2009

This semester was full of meetings, construction, trips, and writing. All of this in preparation for an intense 2010.

I’m thankful for the team that tackled the Team Tennessee Living Light 2011 Solar Decathlon Proposal. We submitted a wonderful document that could not have occured without these members.

The Mechanical Engineers had a table set up on Engineer day. One goal was to make the younger classes aware of existing interdiscipinary oppurtunies trying to sort themselves out between departments.

This fall was beautiful. Color could not have been so perfect. All was well besides the rank smell of the genko fruit.

Thoughts on the Solar Decathlon and Our Future

October 21, 2009

Today we were in our Materials and Methods of Construction class and opened up a conversation that needed to happen. As it needed to happen, I need to relay these current thoughts.

Good design requires so much time. The massiveness of a building project such as the Solar Decathlon is demanding that we think and rethink the challenge. Technology can separate the concept from the building, create barriers that disconnect. But we must embrace complexity and the lists of things that we need to incorporate.

We collectively understood that this project needs to engage the questions that make a place and a fully integrated building system. We want a challenge to enjoy. We want to time to reflect. We want the design to involve every aspect of building technology.

But there is a nervousness the more we learn. Are we creating a complexity that is over the top? Are these principles overlapping? Do they make sense to jumble them all together?

As our professor was relating…”Please try…simplify everything.” From every detail to the full picture, I say take on one task at a time. To become a master juggler, start in singles until a no drop method is generated. UT Zero wants to help formulate this method.

The regulations, laws, and rules of the competition has to be approached with a simplicity of reinventing the way we talk as a school or organization. Working from the bottom up we must be unique, original and simple by having thought of the difference between relevant and irrelevant.

My question: What can UT bring that simplifies the task?

Could it be that designer is both engineer as well as architect? He must be in my eyes.

Weary, but successful

October 19, 2009

With three long rain-soaked days and numerous hours of solar house Q&A behind us, the consensus on the bus ride home was that sleep was going to be the best thing since virgin Christmases, but that weariness is only with the physical demands associated with the trip. A widespread feeling of success is pervasive amongst the student travelers, and I can’t help but feel that this trip was a resounding victory.

On Saturday, the engineering team met up with a lead researcher from ORNL who agreed to help us with the RFP. We submit our draft to him tomorrow. I personally made contacts with students from Rice and Iowa State, both of whom were willing to share insights on whatever problems should approach UTZero. This networking, this learning, this was the story of our trip. We can definitely compete with some of the schools that have showed up this year, and I can’t help but feel that the others on the project agree.

A Break from Learning to Learn

October 19, 2009

Props to the group in the Department of Energy who thought of the idea of the Solar Decathlon and seeing it through to a reality-

During our school’s fall break, a group of eager diverse students left Knoxville after a week of tough reviews, papers and projects to attend the 2009 Solar Decathlon. I must say that through layers of cold rain and immense numbers of people it was indeed a sight to see.

Never have I seen people, not related to the design profession, get so excited about sustainable design and discovering new ways to live their lives for the betterment of society and future generations. It truly does put a smile on my face, and how amusing it was to see people ask questions about elements in their lives that one usually never thinks about; i.e. what kind of r-value a roof has or how the solar water heating system works. I thought architects, designers and engineers contemplated these aspects.

I can say that in general the whole UT Zero team and I thought the Solar Decathlon and trip was a success. Never can be taken away the amount I learned on this trip nor the new immense desire to further look into these new systems and creatively incorporate them into the rest of my life.

On a less of a general note, some of the entries were so sexy. Virginia Tech, Minnesota, California, and Germany ranked in my top favorites. Virginia Tech’s ideas about compartmentalization I felt set the standard for the rest of the houses. The layout of the Minnesota and California submissions felt more like a home than the rest, and I feel that is such an important aspect for this competition… can you see yourself living and feeling comfortable there! And Germany had the great idea to optimize space by introducing level changes. These are all aspects we should look into for our home.

And I feel that a home is something that we should strive for. In the case of the Spain submission, the ideas of home were lost and replaced by engineered patents. However, it would be a great home in outer-space on lets say the moon.

Therefore, when moving on… I feel that when making these decisions to advance from this Solar Decathlon, making sure that we are innovative with our design and with the elements that make up that final submission, we cannot forget that all in all we are making a piece of architecture that someone can essentially call a home.

Having a blast, but why does it have to rain

October 17, 2009

For Photos from the trip. UT Zero Flickr.

Day Two and Three. The Solar Decathlon competition was. Utzero students are freezing but taking the oppurtunity to visit more houses. They wait in line along with the other thousand visitors. They are expected to compile a document of each house for record.

Aside students exploring all over DC, everyone is healthy but James.

The whole trip was so worth it. Establishing ourselves as a team of students can be seen more clearly now. The greatest goal was to create an understanding of what conversations need to occur across departments in terms of design and organization. Looking into developing philosophies could be the next task. Philosophies of systems in architecture, mechanics and the hiarchy of decisions help to balance communications internally and externally.

We made connections with university teams across the SD board. And we started new exciting friendships with others. We have a great task to take on but we must understand that if the Solar Decathlon is not what is in store for UT by January, UT Zero will still be alive generating new ideas, classes, connections between deptartments. A healthy productive team of students will still try to tackle problems even more crutial for UT and the Southeast.