WASHINGTON,Oct. 19 – The University of Cincinnati's solar house went dim Wednesday,mid-competition,when a combination of heat from tour groups,unexpected power drains and other system abnormalities exhausted the electricity flow.
After that,team member Keith Burns said,he'll take a 15th place finish.
At the end of eight days and 10 individual competitions,Cincinnati's Reform team will leave Washington without a trophy but not empty handed.
“We're very proud of what we learned here,” Burns said. The architecture student said he plans to pass what he learned to UC students competing in the 2009 competition,”so they don't start at square one like we did.”
The Polytechnic University of Darmstadt,Germany,won the contest,with the University of Maryland and Santa Clara (Calif.) University placing second and third.
Engineers on the Reform team had to devise a way to pump energy into the house after Wednesday's setback,partially caused by the inefficient slope of solar panels on the roof.
“We favored aesthetics over function,” said Thomas Rudory,an architecture student. Decathlon judges noticed,ranking UC fifth in overall design,their best performance in any of the individual contests.
Reform also had not prepared for the influx of heat that comes with hundreds of visitors walking in and out of the 650-square foot home,especially during an unusually warm week. It was 82 degrees Wednesday.
But Anton Harfman,the associate dean of UC's College of Design,Art,Architecture and Planning,said the team impressed him when they rallied and rose from 19th place. He attributes some of the team's success to the teamwork among different colleges.
“The collaboration between different disciplines has been phenomenal,” Harfman said.
Students have until Monday night to disassemble the house and begin shipping it back to Cincinnati. Burns said the house will probably remain on the UC campus for an unspecified time,when it might be sold for private use.
Many students plan to continue working with energy-efficient technology,including Kristopher Davis,a recent graduate and project manager,who parlayed his experience into a job with the National Green Building Council.
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said application requests for the next decathlon have been placed on the Web site. He also announced an agreement with Spain to host Solar Decathlon Europe in 2010.