Students, faculty reflect on FutureHAUS win

Years of research, development helped VT win 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East

By Brittny McGraw - Anchor

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech is working to build the home of the future, and a first-place finish in a global competition to build the world's best solar home proves it.

The team of students and faculty that won the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East in Dubai recently returned to campus, and they have finally had an opportunity to reflect on what this win means and how their FutureHAUS can revolutionize homebuilding.

"We're so happy to come back with first place," said Joseph Wheeler, co-director of Virginia Tech's Center for Design Research and lead faculty of Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS program. "It validates everything we've been doing for years and years with the FutureHAUS program."

Virginia Tech was the only American team to participate in the competition. The team hit the ground running to erect their home in the desert near Dubai in a two-week time period. The team spent a total of about six weeks in Dubai for the competition. Each student brought unique talents and interests to the team.

"It really broadened my perspective on how it takes so many different people and different components to make one thing work in unison," said Elif Patton, a senior electrical engineering major who was a part of the project for the past year.

Local businesses provided supplies for the team to build with, and sponsors, including Dupont, Dominion Energy and Kohler, provided financial support. 

Virginia Tech not only took first place overall in the global competition, the team also took first place in architecture and creative solutions.

The team also hopes this project can help improve how we interact with the technology in our homes.

"We're in a digital revolution, and we're at a point now where we have to rethink how we build homes, how we build buildings to address this change that's happening so fast," Wheeler said.

The FutureHAUS is now being shipped back to the United States and will arrive in February. It will then be on display on campus in Blacksburg before possible stops in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.

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