Skip To Main Content
The interior of an open-concept kitchen and dining room with sleek, modern design. A large marble counter island with barstools sits in the center. The dining table and kitchen walls are pale minimalist wood.
The Texas A&M University team’s house design will have an external footprint of 1,600 square feet with 1,360 gross square feet of living space. It includes three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, one of which serves as a Federal Emergency Management Agency-compliant safe room. | Image: Courtesy of Dr. Gregory Luhan
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has selected a student team from Texas A&M University to participate in the 2023 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge. The Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a collegiate competition that empowers and equips students to enter the clean energy workforce.
The Solar Decathlon challenges students to blend architectural and engineering excellence with innovation.
Kevin Tinoco, a junior architectural engineering major, is one of the Texas A&M Solar Texas team members. "Participating in these challenges gives us a chance to turn our conceptual ideas into a living reality," Tinoco said. "Our goal is to create affordable housing for people in need while providing a high-performance, net-zero, energy-affordable house."
Texas A&M is one of 16 teams (comprised of 18 national and international academies) selected as a semi-finalist for the Build Challenge. Each semi-finalist team received $50,000 in funding for building a project in their local community. The Texas A&M team has collaborated with Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity to help address climate change and environmental justice issues in the Brazos Valley.
Previously, semi-finalists would create a local design and then transport it to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., before assembling or reassembling the finished design at the competition location. Now, teams focus on creating a permanent building project in their local communities and competing in one of the 10 decathlon contests.
The 10 contests include five juried events: architecture, engineering, market analysis, durability and resilience, and embodied environmental impact. The remaining five contests are measures of integrated performance, occupant experience, comfort, environment quality, and energy performance and presentation.
The architectural engineering students participating in the Build Challenge include Ethan Van Staden, Kevin Tinoco, Daniel Devia Perez, Mariam Habib, Jake Hentze, Oliver Espinosa, Lee Stimson, Chloe Boerner and Sarah Herrera. Filza H. Walters, professor of practice in the architectural engineering program, serves as their faculty mentor.
The team includes students from the Department of Architecture at Texas A&M as well: Jack Seibert, Zackary Shilling, David Rodriguez and Danking Bhujel. Several students from the Department of Construction Science are also on the team. Dr. Gregory A. Luhan, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the department head of the Department of Architecture, and Dr. Zofia K. Rybkowski, an associate professor in the Department of Architecture, are the overall faculty leaders.
Teams competing in the Build Challenge will present to juries April 21-24, 2023, in Golden, Colorado.