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Solar Decathlon Director Welcomes 2015 Decathletes

Monday, April 7, 2014

By Richard King

To the new teams, welcome and thank you for accepting our challenge to design and build an energy-efficient, solar-powered house to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. And congratulations on being selected!

The Solar Decathlon is a beneficial and rewarding competition. As a solar decathlete, you help create an economy fueled by clean energy technologies that save families and businesses money and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Your participation in the Solar Decathlon also benefits your career—and I know that one of the top concerns of students like you is finding employment after graduation.

I recently read an interesting article by Steve Mesler, a U.S. gold medalist from the 2010 Winter Olympics whose team won the four-man bobsled event. He writes how, after the Olympics, he realized he had few skills applicable to the working world.

“After a decade of singularly focused training to become the best in the world at my sport, I was left with ‘now what?’ Being strong and fast and able to use perfect push technique to move an object on the ice isn’t especially useful outside the Olympics. Unless a friend’s car is stuck in the snow. It’s scary to realize that the physical skills you have so carefully crafted don’t transfer to the real world.”

Steve had to start over to find employment and renewed interest.

Not so for solar decathletes. We help ensure your passion does not go unrewarded. You will need to work hard. Refine your skills. Complement your academic coursework. And be creative, resourceful, and determined. Then you, too, can have fame and glory in an awesome competition. The difference is that you will have employers seek you out, making employment both a goal and a reward.

Better still, you’ll feel good knowing your hard work is helping others. That’s why your dedicated involvement is so important. You are not debating how to build a better world—you are showing how to do it. You know the quickest way to a better future is to design a cleaner, more sustainable way to live and then to demonstrate it. It is this combination of creativity and public education that makes the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon so powerful.

We’ll do all we can to help you succeed, and we are going to work hard to make the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition better than ever.

May the best team win!

Richard King, creator and director of the Solar Decathlon, works in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office.

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