Monash students take on the 2021 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge

Congratulations to the Monash Solar Decathlon Team for their success at the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge, held virtually across the weekend of 15 -18 April 2021. The team finished third out of 63 international teams and won the Terrific Team Spirit award in the Attached Housing division, while also submitting designs in the Urban Single Family and Elementary School divisions.

Comprising Engineering, Science, and Art, Design and Architecture students, the team’s Attached Housing submission addressed the challenge of designing a domestic violence refuge. This refuge was designed to provide women and children with temporary housing for 4-6 weeks while longer-term accommodation is sourced.  The team worked closely with the City of Melbourne and Kara House, a Melbourne-based domestic violence organisation, to understand the needs of the occupants and staff and design a response.

Their designs incorporated features such as a flexible layout to maximise occupancy, platinum disability certification, an oversized solar energy system to help offset the reliance on non-renewable energy sources at nearby properties, passive-design orientation to maximise natural light, a children’s playground and a sensory garden. The team delivered their designs in a 60-page report to the judges on March 30, followed by a 20-minute recorded presentation on 6 April, culminating in a live  presentation and Q&A session with the judges in a virtual session this weekend.

“MSDT has again demonstrated the amazing talent and hard work of our undergraduate students at Monash,” said team supervisor Dr Brandon Winfrey from the Department of Civil Engineering. ”The team faced stiff competition in three divisions. Placing third in the Attached Housing division was very impressive and the jurors had all positive things to say about their design. All our students competing in this year’s competition faced significant challenges collaborating remotely, but they’ve come out of this experience as a strong team with lots of ideas and motivation for next year’s competition.”

“Being on the Solar Decathlon team has been the highlight of my time at Monash!” said Attached Housing team lead Tanzia Matotek. “I'm so proud of all the teams, and it was especially rewarding to see the Attached Housing team place third in the division and win the bonus Cheerleader Award for Terrific Team Spirit. It’s been incredible working with such a passionate, talented, diverse group of students and I can’t wait to watch the team continue to grow. Massive thanks to Brandon for endlessly supporting us, and to our industry partners, including Kara House and the City of Melbourne, for guiding us through our design process."

A prestigious international student competition hosted at the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, the Solar Decathlon consists of ten contests that challenge student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The Monash team was the only Australian team to compete amongst 63 other teams from across the United States, Canada, Egypt, South Korea, India, United Kingdom, Tunisia and others.

Visit the Monash Solar Decathlon website for more information and to express interest in partnering with the team on projects.

Visit the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon website for more information about the competition.