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Going the Distance: Students Compete in Solar Decathlon

More than 60 students from The University of Texas at Austin and the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany have spent two years imagining how to power our homes and keep our day-to-day lives running on light from the sun. Now, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, the solar-powered home they designed and built is on display in California, where judges will score the team’s work.

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Students designed and built a solar-powered home for the 2015 Solar Decathlon

UPDATE: UT Austin students placed fourth overall in the prestigious 2015 Solar Decathlon competition.

The Nexushaus team also finished third in the Solar Decathlon’s Engineering Contest and second in the Affordability Contest.


More than 60 students from The University of Texas at Austin and the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany have spent two years imagining how to power our homes and keep our day-to-day lives running on light from the sun.

Now, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, the solar-powered home they designed and built is on display in California, where judges will score the team’s work on everything from architecture and engineering to the performance of home appliances, affordability and how well the teams market and promote the solar-powered homes.

Dubbed “Nexushaus,” the UT Solar Decathlon team’s solar home aims to address broad sustainability and affordability issues while also focusing on key issues facing Austin. The Nexushaus team is one of 20 selected for the prestigious competition out of more than 150 teams that applied.

The competition and judging is underway in Irvine, Calif., and the overall winner will be announced October 17.

[Learn more about the Nexushaus team and other solar-powered projects on the Forty Acres, and see how cross-curriculum collaboration brought the Nexushaus team’s vision to reality.]

The Nexushaus team’s solar-powered home includes two 400-square-foot modules and a central connector. One module serves as a living unit with kitchen and dining space, and the second contains a full bathroom and two bedrooms.

The 2015 Solar Decathlon marks the fourth time UT Austin has been selected to compete, with the most recent UT team competing in 2007. This year, UT Austin is the only Texas university represented in the competition.

Among the UT students on the Nexushaus team, 41 are from the Cockrell School of Engineering, 36 are from the School of Architecture, four are from the McCombs School of Business, three are from the College of Liberal Arts and one each is from the Jackson School of Geosciences, the College of Natural Sciences and the Moody College of Communication.

[Follow Nexushaus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.]

Look inside the Nexushaus and the team’s work to build this solar-powered home.

“This project really couldn’t work if it was just a single degree program trying to take this all on.”
—Kaitlyn Gruener, Architecture senior

“Opportunities to collaborate in this manner help to make our skills more marketable post-graduation.”
—Kerri Murphy, Second-year MBA student

“In the workplace, you’re not just solving specific, narrow problems out of a textbook — everyone from all disciplines works together to solve problems.”
—Julia Park, Cockrell School of Engineering and School of Architecture, Architectural engineering and architecture senior