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Mass. Students to Compete in 2011 Solar Decathlon


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Darlene Gillan 617-879-7050 or

UMass Lowell, MassArt Team Up to Build Solar-Powered Home

LOWELL, Mass. - The Department of Architecture at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) and the Solar Energy Engineering program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) announce that they have been selected as one of 20 teams globally to compete in the next U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2011. The team is the only one from Massachusetts and one of only two from New England selected to compete.

Over the next 18 months, this joint team of architecture and engineering students will design, build, and operate an affordable and uniquely energy-efficient solar-powered house with the goal of completely eliminating energy costs for its inhabitants and creating a surplus of power.

The architecture department at MassArt is well suited to this endeavor with a program that focuses on design-build experiences and is based upon curriculum that is rooted in sustainable practice. The program seeks to train designers who are skilled in the practical design of buildings and urban environments; knowledgeable about structural form, materials and construction techniques; and dedicated to building sustainable communities by providing leadership in community service projects.

The Solar Energy Engineering Program at UMass Lowell combines the expertise of industrial technology, manufacturing, environmental, electrical, chemical, mechanical, and systems engineering students and professionals who have worked on global projects ranging from solar-powered vehicles, advancements towards future development of photo-voltaic cell technology to rural electrification projects powered by the sun.

“We are very proud of the student team from UMass Lowell and MassArt for being selected for this prestigious international competition. They are a great example of how interdisciplinary research and collaboration can address critical issues, such as making alternative energy accessible and affordable,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “Their selection is also recognition of the strength of both institutions and the overall quality of public higher education in Massachusetts.”

As state institutions of higher learning, both schools have integrated sustainability into their curriculum and are committed to service learning opportunities that benefit the community and society as a whole.

“Collaborative and interdisciplinary design/build challenges like the Solar Decathlon, offer emerging architecture and engineering design thinkers the opportunity to tackle serious global issues such as the environment,” said Katherine Sloan, President of MassArt. “This approach also provides a successful and transferable model for integrating sustainability into higher education curriculum.”

With a focus this year on affordable and energy-efficient housing, the teaming of construction through engineering and artisanship will highlight each school’s strengths in innovative technology and design. This studentߝdriven project seeks to capitalize on the knowledge base of both institutions, while providing a cold-climate solution in support of local homeowners and the numerous sustainable industries located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Official release by U.S. Department of Energy:

About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UMass Lowell offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

About Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is one of the leading colleges of its kind in the United States. It has a proud 135-year legacy as the nation’s first and only independent public art college and the first art school in the country to grant a degree. With visionary leadership and a world-class faculty, MassArt is at the forefront of art and design in the 21st century.

For more information, contact or 978-934-3224