Design, engineering, and innovation. Three words to describe the hard work and dedication of 14 collegiate teams who dedicated two years to designing and planning their team’s structure for the Solar Decathlon 2015.  As you walk through the village of solar dependent homes you immediately get a since of pride these teams have for the work they have accomplished.  As Stephen Cavanaugh, of Team Stile said “I'm most proud of seeing the house completed. Being on a two year long project, which started at the beginning of my freshman year, really shaped the first two years of college for me. Being able to see it from start to finish was a uniquely valuable experience.”   Last month we introduced you to Team Stile, a group of 60 energetic collegiate students from West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata, who teamed up to compete in this year’s Solar Decathlon.  The results are in and although Team Stile did not take home the coveted trophy, they did build a structure that had consumer appeal and proved to be both energy efficient and affordable.

The bi-annual competition challenges students to design, build and operate solar dependent houses.  After submitting their initial proposal, the teams await for their submission to be approved and awarded the $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.  With the $100,000 grant, along with, donations from industry (not to exceed $250,000) the team embarks on their 2 year journey to design and build their innovative house. 

Team Stile set off to create a structure that combined the internal feel of a rustic home one might find in West Virginia with the grandeur of the Italian style.  Throughout this experience, the team learned about new technology trends that showcase energy-efficiency, but they also learned about utilizing new software tools within the structural & construction workflows to help reduce waste and enhance sustainability.  The team realized that using this experience to gain further knowledge in how BIM tools like Tekla Structures can benefit the engineering of the structure and automate fabrication processes proved to extend their understanding of building performance.  Using the virtual model created in Tekla Structures, the students were able to visually look at constructability issues which then proved an invaluable experience when they got their hands dirty during the onsite construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of the final 881 sq ft, one bedroom, one bathroom house which included a fully integrated automation system.  Another learning experience gained throughout this project was the intercontinental collaboration between the two universities.  “Working with University of Roma Tor Vergata, provided one of the defining factors for our house.  The collaboration really drove the unique architecture and design of the Arch, which not only supports the solar energy arrays but also shades the house and guides visitors inside.” mentioned Stephen.  #StileHouse will finally rest at the Tellus Museum of Science in Cartersville, GA.  You can learn more about #StileHouse at solar.wvu.edu.   


These 14 teams engaging over a 1000 students embarked on a journey to build a self-sufficient, solar-powered houses that showcased energy-efficient amenities and smart home systems but ended up walking away with experience that cannot be gained in the classroom alone.  This experience of working in a collaborative environment, designing, analyzing, fabricating, marketing, building, and operating their solar dependent homes will support their future career opportunities enabling them to be more competitive in their job search.  They learned collaboration and team-work, as well as, constructability both virtually and onsite.  Learn more about the teams by visiting www.solardecathlon.gov.

Students pursuing careers in construction are quickly realizing that LOD 250* models are not sufficient enough for construction.  Team Stile, also realized early in the project that utilizing Tekla Structures BIM software, they were able to quickly bring the architectural model up to an LOD 400* which provided the fabrication shop, the model needed to automate fabrication of the steel beams used for their most impressive feature, the Arch.

*LOD 250 & LOD 400 refer to Level of Development of the model.  To learn more about Level of Development (LOD) visit the specification guide via BIMForum.org.

This is how students are preparing for a future in Construction, start your journey now by downloading Tekla Structures.