WASHINGTON -- Cornell's Silo House -- the university's entry in the 2009 international biennial Solar Decathlon -- is a round peg in a rectangular plot. The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, begins today at 1 p.m. on the National Mall.
"It's exhilarating watching 20 schools descend on the Mall, each with their own house for the competition," said electrical engineering alumnus Evan Ture '09. "It's starting after two years of pent-up energy; it's exciting."
Cornell's house arrived directly from the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse at 11 p.m. Sept. 30. Three flatbed trucks delivered the three sections of the Cornell house. In addition, two 53-foot tractor-trailers brought appliances, handmade furniture, a wheelchair ramp and piping. Yet another truck brought more than 1,000 low-water-need plants for the landscaping.
The student team worked nonstop with the exception of meal breaks and very little sleep to complete the house in time for the 10 p.m. "hammers down" deadline Oct. 7.
The decathlon village is a portrait in modernity. Cornell's house sits on a corner lot across from Virginia Tech's Lumenhaus and next door to Team Germany. The Virginia Tech and German Bauhaus entries contrast with Cornell's "rustic chic" exterior aesthetic.
While the competition is fierce, teams are friendly. When Team Arizona had trouble with wiring, Ture assisted them with splicing, grounding and crimping. Cornell also is storing ladders under the German house.
By Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 7, the Mall was crawling with green energy executives who spoke to students at all houses. Ture, who will be married in the next year, said he made a mental note to himself: "I need to print out some resumes to have on hand."
The solar decathlon village is open to the public through Oct. 17, except on Oct. 14. The winning house will be announced Oct. 16.