The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 14, 2014

Crowder, Drury to work together on 2015 Solar Decathlon

NEOSHO, Mo. — Students from Crowder College will partner with students from Drury University next year to design and build a solar-powered house to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

The competition challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winning team will be the one that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

The teams were announced Thursday at a news conference in Irvine, Calif. The competition will take place in fall 2015 at Orange County Great Park, Irvine.

Some other colleges that are partnering for the competition are Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University; University of Florida, National University of Singapore and Santa Fe College; and Oregon State University and Portland State University.

Individual university teams are Yale University, Missouri University of Science and Technology and Stanford University.

It will have been a 10-year absence of Crowder College from the Solar Decathlon. Crowder participated in the first two competitions, in 2002 and 2005. Those houses are at the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology Center at Crowder.

Russ Hopper, MARET Center director, in a telephone interview, said that after 2005 the rules changed to require colleges to have an architecture program. The partnership with students in the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University, Springfield, has taken care of that requirement.

He said solar-energy technology has improved greatly since 2005, with more efficient solar panels and better inverters that transform sun power to electric energy.

Hopper said the competition will benefit students.

“This is great for our solar program, for our community and for the local economy,” Hopper said in a news release. “We will use the competition as an enhancement to our training. Students who enroll in our solar degree or certificate programs will definitely get to work on the 2015 solar house and, of course, we welcome the participation of the entire Crowder student body.”

Hopper said that the May 2011 Joplin tornado was a motivation for the schools to work together.

“Both schools have worked and continue to work to help the citizens of Joplin recover,” Hopper said. “We all thought that demonstrating a sustainable house that would be both solar powered and disaster resistant would be a good goal.”

The 20 teams will design, build and test their houses before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition site in California in fall 2015. Hopper said the ability to take the house apart and reassemble it quickly also would be beneficial after a disaster.

“We intended for it to be portable,” he said.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced the teams.

“The Solar Decathlon provides the next generation of America’s architects, engineers and entrepreneurs with the real world experience and training they need to strengthen U.S. innovation and support new, clean sources of energy,” Poneman said, during a news conference on Thursday.

Hopper said he would like for the entire college and community to be involved in the project. He said they will welcome assistance.



Web updates

Russ Hopper, director of the MARET Center at Crowder College, said that when work begins on the house, progress will be updated regularly on a website.

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