Solar Decathlon

AdvisorsVIP Course Section NumberResearchObjectives

Advisors (and respective Department)

Cosmas Tzavelis (CE), David Wootton (ME), Neveen Shlayan (EE), Julian Palacio (Arch), Pamela Cabrera (Arch), Melody Baglione (ME) 

VIP Course Section Number



The Solar Decathlon course forms a cross-disciplinary team that engages in a design phase and a build phase of highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. Students are expected to prepare creative solutions for real-world issues in the building industry. The focus of this course will be High-performance building design includes comprehensive building science, energy efficiency, optimized structural and mechanical systems, indoor air quality, resilience, and water conservation while maintaining the highest spatial design standards. Engineering students will be working closely with Architects to design an efficient and innovative system to support the functional and aesthetic characteristics of their projects while experimenting with the use of standard as well as unconventional materials. Students will be taught the basics of statics, the strength of materials, structural analysis, and design. Teams will be expected to participate in the Solar Decathlon Design and Build Challenge:


  • Introduce students to the state of the state-of-the-art industry-standard technology to better prepare them to enter the workforce.
  • Allow students to engage with their specialized knowledge and skills in the contexts of a team-based research project.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to conduct research at an early stage to better prepare them for possible academic careers.
  • Enable students to work in multidisciplinary teams in the pursuit of designing effective solutions to modern complex issues.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.