The Germans once again proved their mettle in engineering by winning the Solar Decathlon that occurred on the National Mall in Washington Oct. 12-20. My colleague Sean Snyder pointed to the winners in an Oct. 19 blog post, but I wanted to elaborate a bit given I actually went to the Solar Decathlon.
The University of Darmstadt, the MIT of Germany, outscored 19 other colleges and universities. The University of Maryland ‘s “Leaf House” placed and a rookie team from Santa Clara University showed. SCU was picked 21st out of 20 that could compete, but lucked into the contest because another school dropped out. MIT, America’s University of Darmstadt, finished 13th. Matt Traum, who as a doctoral student participated on the MIT Solar 7 team, offers his explaination why he thinks America’s most prestigious engineering school did so lousy at his I Have the Power! blog.
The teams each built and designed a solar home and were scored on such criteria as lighting, hot water, comfort zone and architecture. For the most part, the entries looked boxy and ultra-modern. I happened to be in Washington visiting my son in college and visited many of the homes. It’s our youth who give us hope!! Nice job, decathletes!!
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.