solar decathlon 2015

Team Alfred's OFFICIAL BLOG!

This was a multi-faceted collaboration between Alfred State College and Alfred University for the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy's national competition in Irvine, California. Scroll down to the start of the blog to get a sense of what the event was and is.

I myself was originally commissioned as the teams designer. I later became a decathlete to go compete with the team. Since I was going to California I also convinced the school to let me bring along my work to have a solo art show in the teams solar house. (Blog post from Day 7 highlights my involvement.)

Arriving on Site

Wednesday, Oct. 7th



West Coast Fever

Never having been to the west coast, a lot of us were extremely excited to have this opportunity to come here and participate. As a alumnus of Alfred University, I was eligible to officially compete in the competition as a Solar Decathlete. After landing in California the dramatic scene change sparked excitement! 


By the time we landed in California this afternoon, I had not slept for an entire day. The original plan was to go unpack at the hotel and go grocery shopping, but we found out that the construction of the house was behind schedule so we needed to first go help them complete it if we could. The house was looking great but it had to be completed by 11pm, no excuses. Reality came crashing in after arriving at the house. 


What Sets Us Apart

Alfred's Alf home was designed, constructed and assembled by students and faculty alone. There was only one other team that also did this project free from contractors. This is a great statement, but in reality it proved to be quite the challenge. Arriving with no safety gear we found out that we were not allowed to work around the house or in the house, so we would have to try and find things that we could do.  We arrived, checked in, and gravitated toward our house site.

All of us had pre-registered, so we just had to present identification to receive our badges.

All of us had pre-registered, so we just had to present identification to receive our badges.

Map of Solar Decathlon, 2015.

The Solar Decathlon Minute

It is official footage of the activities of the day. This video shows Alfred's House quite a lot, so I decided to embed it here. Note that their day numbering starts at the beginning of construction, whereas my blog merely follows the competition end of the event.


Arriving to Our House

Immediately when arriving I seen my best friend, Avery Sandler- captain of Team Alfred. Rather than a warm greeting, he quickly put things into perspective by telling me that I needed to work on the poster board assembly because he had no time and nobody else knows how to do it. They had no glue that was fast drying so I had to find someone to drive me to Home Depot. I returned to only find my fellow arriving students not knowing what to do, so I grabbed a few and had the come help me finalize my signage that I designed onto the board that we made prior to shipping.


Team Alfred's official signage that I designed and constructed.


Getting Energized

The dozen or so students that were there constructing the house for two weeks prior to our arrival had been working 18 hour work days to try to get completed on time- in the warmer than usual California fall weather. Because of this I was not able to stand their glances if I were to allow myself to stand around and do nothing. I tried to get the dozen students that arrived with me motivated by started to clean up the job site surrounding the house. After an hour or so I finally got everyone into it. At 7:30 all 20-30 of us finally sat down for pizza. Sitting there I realized that we only had a few hours remaining; after that the rules would not permit us to work on the house any more. Not only did this hurt me mentally in the aspect that I was part of the event for my alma matter, but also knowing that my artwork and designs were going to be represented in this house. (I had no time for taking photos.)



I quickly began to uncrate my eight pieces of artwork one at a time to start hanging them in the house. As I was doing this I delegated several students to start cleaning the rooms so that my work would be going into clean spaces. I really wish there were someone that was not busy to take documentation photos, but it was a nut house. Everyone was past being polite and taking their sweet old times. We all were dead tired, but we all were non-stop sweating while the race for completion. 

I finally finished mounting all of my art around 10pm, only to realize that nobody had even attempted to mount the poster boards!

I jumped on a student and had them come assist me. We had to add a mount and cut part of the railing; changes to the original plans were made, therefore changes to my poster board design had to be made as well. We designed the board to be in two sections so that we would not block the handrail- a requirement of the contest. However because changes were made my final setup of this bottom section has a much larger gap than anticipated. Since the background of all of the posters contains the team logo, it ended up coming out a little sloppy. However I was able to get my art and designs completed for the team all right before 11pm, despite the unforeseen circumstances. All was good for the night. We were able to finally go to the hotel to check in and get some sleep!


Assembly of the Alf House before we Arrived!


Below is a slideshow of images and a video that show the assembly progress by team captain Avery Sandler and the Alfred State students.


Interview of Team Alfred in a video from the 5th day of assembly.