Eight faculty members working collaboratively together on Virginia Tech's Lumenhaus solar decathlon project received the university's 2010 XCaliber Award for excellence in creating and applying technologies on a large scale team project.
- Virgilio Centeno, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering;
- Robert Dunay, T.A. Carter Professor of Architecture;
- Denis Gracanin, associate professor of computer science;
- Benjamin Johnson, professor of architecture;
- Jane Machin, assistant professor of marketing;
- Andrew McCoy, assistant professor of building construction;
- Robert Schubert, professor of architecture and associate dean for research; and
- Joseph Wheeler, associate professor of architecture.
Established in 1996 by Office of the Provost, the XCaliber Award (shorthand for exceptional, high caliber work) is presented annually by the Virginia Tech Center for Innovation in Learning to recognize individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology in teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches to learning activities. Awardees receive a cash award and are called upon to demonstrate their work.
Students and faculty from architecture, industrial design, landscape architecture, building construction, marketing, computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and civil engineering explored new technologies as they integrated teaching, research, and application. The unique opportunity offered by the 2009 solar decathlon competition called for creativity in integrating technology in learning and application activities while enhancing students' education experiences.
The initial phase of the project brought architecture and industrial design students together to explore small-scale applications of new fabrication technologies. The second phase involved a larger group from nine departments and three colleges in the design and construction of an energy efficient, sustainable house powered by the sun.
Students and faculty worked individually, in groups, and side-by-side to expand their knowledge and develop innovative strategies of design, research, and application. Driven by the demands of a competitive process which called for concrete deliverables that had to meet specific performance criteria, students developed teamwork and communication skills, as well as a deep appreciation for alternative modes of working offered by various disciplines.
The two-year, student-centered project required strong student leadership and collaboration. The resulting student experiences spanned the breadth of research, ideation, design, prototyping, fabrication, industry collaboration, construction, transportation, communications, media relations, operations, and evaluation.
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