By Alexis Powers
Today’s Opening Ceremony for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 brought the solar village to life. More than 600 students and invited guests attended the event, which featured dignitaries, sponsors, and Solar Decathlon Director Richard King.
Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), gave a rousing speech to start the program.
“In the future, you leaders will be sitting across the table to figure out how to make this world a better place for your children and your grandchildren,” said Dr. Majumdar. “Let the Solar Decathlon be the start of that personal relationship.”
Senator Robert Menendez was another crowd favorite. After Solar Decathlon 2009, Sen. Menendez put out a challenge to all universities in his home state. Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of Technology answered his call to action and formed Team New Jersey.
Sen. Menendez recognized the many student experts—from architects and engineers to carpenters and pizza wranglers— that come together to create a Solar Decathlon house.
“You’re leading us to a brighter, cleaner, greener, smarter future,” he said.
Other speakers—including Beatriz Corredor from Solar Decathlon Europe, Liang Zhi-peng from Solar Decathlon China, and the generous sustaining sponsors—provided additional congratulations and inspiration to the decathletes. Elisabeth Neigert from the SCI-Arc/Caltech team represented the decathletes in the ceremony’s final speech.
The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting that officially opened the solar village to VIPs.
“We’re off and running,” said Richard King. As Elisabeth Neigert said, may the best team win!
Alexis Powers is a member of the Solar Decathlon communications team.