President’s Corner: Solar Decathlon team exemplifies best of NU

After several years of planning and hard work, Norwich’s Delta T-90 team participated in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition in Irvine, Calif. Our students did a wonderful job representing Norwich University. In addition to placing 12th overall, the Delta T-90 team placed first in the affordability category, and was given a special award in honor of Byron Stafford, longtime operations manager for the international competition, who died in May 2013.

The Byron Stafford award recognized the team that best exemplified the spirit of Stafford, described as being honest, caring, humble, intelligent, fair, reliable, steadfast and genuine. These are the very qualities we hope to instill in Norwich students.

The Solar Decathlon program challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. Only 20 teams are selected worldwide to participate in the Solar Decathlon, which is held biannually.

The Solar Decathlon is the type of competition in which Norwich should be competing. Norwich students are taught to lead and to solve real problems. You are leaders in the classroom and in the community.

For several years, Norwich’s architecture, business, construction engineering management and engineering students have been conceptualizing, planning, designing and building a solar house. In January 2012, their project was awarded a spot in the 2013 Solar Decathlon, held in early October.

The Delta T-90 is a 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom house which draws enough power from the sun to eliminate heating costs; and it can be built at a price affordable to a Vermont family with an average income.

The impetus for the Delta T-90 team’s solar design was conceived in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, when so many of you stepped up to support the people of Northfield and other Vermont towns to come back from the ravages of flooding. Cadets and civilian students contributed over 4,000 hours of volunteer work and met many Vermont homeowners face-to-face during a very tough time. While working to help your Vermont neighbors you witnessed first-hand the need for affordable, energy efficient and resilient housing. Shortly afterwards, planning for the Solar Decathlon began.

Norwich is the birthplace of experiential learning; we teach students the practical skills combined with creative thinking that solve real problems every day. The creation of the Delta T-90 house utilized various disciplines, teamwork, and experiential learning.

The success of our Solar Decathlon team exemplifies the Norwich mission of giving students, “an education that enables them to act as well as to think, and to execute as well as to conceive.”

I would like to congratulate everyone at Norwich who was involved in the Solar Decathlon competition for a job well done. I am proud of all of you, and I am sure Captain Partridge would be also.

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