Topics: Sustainability/Environment, Immersive Learning, College of Architecture and Planning, College of Applied Sciences and Technology

January 30, 2012

Ball State University students will work with their peers from the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky to build the nation's best solar-powered house in the 2013 Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. Throughout the two-year process, the teams will design, construct and test their homes before reassembling them at the 2013 competition site, Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.

Team Kentuckiana is one of 20 international groups selected to showcase solar-powered houses in fall 2013. Ball State's team represents students from the university's Colleges of Architecture and Planning and Applied Sciences and Technology. The team will be mentored by architecture professors Michele Chiuini and Walter Grondzik.

"This competition has a significant impact on society because it shows designers, builders and consumers how to save money and energy with affordable, clean-energy products that are available today," Chiuni said. "The Solar Decathlon also provides participating students with hands-on experience and unique training that prepares them to enter our nation's clean-energy workforce."

The competition also provides students an opportunity to work in multidisciplinary teams for course credit to study the requirements for designing and building solar-powered houses.

This translates into a life-changing immersive learning experience. Faculty are also challenged to create partnerships between different departments, colleges, universities and external sponsors, developing new communication skills and learning opportunities, Chiuni said.