Solar Decathlon team places 2nd in design competition
The University of Illinois Solar Decathlon team was among the winners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2016 Race to Zero Student Design Competition.
The University of Illinois team – Team LINKoln – placed second in the Small Multifamily Housing contest with their LINKoln Local Project. The interdisciplinary team included 22 students from mechanical engineering, architecture, electrical engineering, civil engineering, energy systems, technical systems management, industrial engineering, and environmental engineering.
Race to Zero is the parallel competition to the well-known Solar Decathlon, which Illinois has dominated for years. Held April 16-17, 2016 at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, the competition encourages students to work with builders, developers, community leaders, and other industry partners to meet stringent design requirements to create sustainable, marketable, and affordable concept homes.
Thirty-one teams from 25 collegiate institutions from the U.S. and Canada competed to design cost-effective, zero-energy homes for mainstream builders.
Shuli Huang, a graduate student in Assistant Professor SungWoo Nam’s research group, was the Solar Systems Project Lead for the team. He said the primary objective of his team was to implement a new, more energy efficient design to an existing multi-unit residential area in Urbana-Champaign. Huang said his experience on the team taught him things he never would have learned in class, and he was grateful to be able to work with students outside of MechSE.
“It's definitely a cross-departmental learning experience, and I got a chance to cooperate with other students from different backgrounds,” he said.
Teammate Arjun Kumar, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering this spring, said the Solar Decathlon gives students the opportunity to truly test out their strengths, intellect, and creativity for future careers.
“It's one platform where you're actually working with not just students from different majors, but different levels of study,” Kumar said. “Shuli is a graduate student; our team lead is a PhD candidate. We had 70 percent undergraduates, but everyone else is doing graduate studies, so there's a good share of experience.”