Purdue INhome team finishes second overall
WOW! Our team could not be more proud of what we accomplished our first time in the Solar Decathlon. It’s been a long, challenging, and joyous experience for all team members. We came out here on a simple mission: to share with everyone that solar living is possible. We truly believe you do not have to sacrifice modern comforts or lifestyle to live sustainably. We feel like we are winners because we accomplished our mission.
We wanted to share with you a testament to our mission; Rich Simmons an alumnus from Purdue University comments on the INhome. We are humbled by his interpretation of our home.
Yesterday on my lunch break, I had the distinct honor of walking the three blocks past the Lincoln Memorial and down the Potomac from the State Department to visit the 2011 Solar Decathlon. My experience was profound, so I felt obliged to share it a friend in W. Lafayette.
Glitz, flashy architecture, impossible materials, ultra modern furnishings, fancy displays and glossy fold-out brochures are typically standard issue for the Solar Decathlon, and this year is no exception. And yet, INhome, Purdue’s entry, is a refreshingly pragmatic and affordable energy marvel. Many may criticize its simplicity. A friend even admitted to me he didn’t even bother to walk through it, calling it an uninspired Midwestern ranch. And yet, in it’s aesthetic and functional simplicity, I find the very reason for abundant praise.
You see, that’s just what’s wrong with renewable energy and energy efficiency here these days. The advanced technology is so enticing to us, and its long term promise so compelling that we get mesmerized by it. We acknowledge our need for grand solutions to our predicament, and their allure blinds us from seeing the opportunity right in front of us: that home next-door, A-frame roof, solar array on standard shingles, proudly adorned with two flags: the Stars and Stripes on the front porch and the Purdue black and gold gracing that other residential sanctuary of many Americans and all good tinkerers- the tool shed in the garage. A home designed with commonly available materials by a group of uncommon visionaries that recognize the journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step. Genius.
About the grounds are 19 other entries, with inspiring architecture showcasing such attributes as huge glass windows, exotic woods, high tech composites, modified shipping containers, and even some sort of odd potholder-silver-quilted thing. Please don’t misunderstand me, I mean no disrespect to the amazing other entries. They were also filled with incredible arrays of the latest technology, equally passionate and creative young innovators, and a hope that can visualize the future in so many welcomed ways.
But the Purdue team made me proud to be a Boilermaker by delivering, as I have heard we have been known to do, something that has often earned us the highest reputation among practicing engineers: real solutions in a real world. This does not mean we do not know how to dream. On the contrary, our dreams take flight in full view of the sun, with lasting and real solutions. This is clearly a different challenge than finding the “right” solution. I recall one of my first lessons at Ford was to learn not simply how to design a great automobile component or system, which is important to be sure, but moreover, to design it in such a way we could make a couple million of them profitably.
As I write this, Purdue is in third place with one more day of judging. I hope they win. But even if they don’t, they came to our Nation’s Capitol and reminded us that Main Street is where the future is. That creativity takes many forms. That certain ideas, in their very simplicity, may trump their more flamboyant brethren. That home runs are nice, but base-hits and solid pitching more often win the game. This home, I understand will fittingly return to Indiana and become someone’s actual American Dream.
My kudos to the team, and to the school that makes the team, and most of all, to the hearts and minds inside the people that make the school. Dream on while the sun shines…
Richard A. Simmons, P.E.