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Design Projects and Competitions

Cal Poly students from a variety of Colleges and majors, working in both discipline specific and interdisciplinary teams, have had tremendous success in sustainability related student design projects and national design competitions.  These projects provide unique opportunities for students to work on cutting edge technologies and sustainable solutions to real world problems.  Please use the resources below to learn more about Cal Poly students' examples of "learn by doing".

Solar Decathlon House

Cal Poly's Solar House A small interdisciplinary team comprised of Cal Poly faculty and students from the Colleges of Architecture and Engineering, designed and constructed a solar house as part of the second annual Solar Decathlon, a US Department of Energy (DOE)/National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) competition.  Teams from eighteen universities were invited to design and build 500 to 800 square foot solar-powered residences on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2005.  Cal Poly's entry was constructed and tested in San Luis Obispo, deconstructed and transported to Washington, D.C., and re-constructed on the Mall for the three week competition.  There were ten categories in the competition based on architectural design and energy performance.  Cal Poly took third place overall, first place for performance of energy efficient appliances, first in lighting, second overall in architecture, dwelling and comfort zone, and third in the hot water generation category.  The house is now sited on the Cal Poly campus to serve as a full-scale, functioning case study for teaching and learning about environmental issues and architecture.

Design Village Conference

In the Design Village Competition, teams from across the United States design and build a theme-based structure that meets several requirements: the structure's parts must be hand carried up a mile trail into Poly Canyon; the structure must be assembled in 12 hours, without the use of plugged electricity; the team members must live in their structure for the entire weekend.  Teams are judged for craftsmanship, sustainability, excellence in design, suitability to the theme, and public response.  This event is a challenging opportunity that usually produces creative and impressive results.

Super Mileage Vehicle

The Cal Poly Supermileage Vehicle Team, comprised primarily of Mechanical Engineering students in the SAE club (Society of Automotive Engineers), is a group dedicated to designing and fabricating a motor vehicle that can achieve maximum fuel efficiency.  The Supermileage Vehicle Team was the event champion of the inaugural Shell EcoMarathon Americas competition in 2007 with an efficiency of 1,902.7 miles per gallon.  The team bested that mark in the 2008 competition with a mark of 2,752.3 miles per gallon.

Hybrid Vehicle Development Team

The Cal Poly Hybrid Vehicle Development Team of engineering students, an outgrowth of the former FutureTruck Team, is modifying a 2002 Ford Explorer SUV to explore the limits of hybrid vehicle efficiency and performance.  The hybrid vehicle is planned to develop 1000 peak horsepower, have a top speed of 155 mph, run the quarter mile in 10 seconds, and get 35 mpg in normal driving.  At the heart of the design are two powerful hydraulic motors at each differential, rated at 500 horsepower each.  To turn the motors, a hydraulic pump pressurizes hydraulic fluid to a max operating pressure of 5100 psi and stores it in hydraulic accumulators.  Running the pump is a 110 horsepower, 1.9L Volkswagen TDI engine, running on B20 biodiesel fuel. 

Grid Tied Exercise Machines

Why drive your car to the gym to get on a machine that uses energy to simulate running, biking, or rowing?  Several teams of students, primarily Electrical and Mechanical Engineering majors, have been working to design, fabricate, and optimize an exercise bike, rowing machine, and elliptical trainer to act as grid tied energy generation systems.  Research and development is ongoing with multiple design teams, with the goal of functional prototypes that will be used in the newly renovated Student Recreation Center.  Development platforms include several Senior Projects sponsored by professor Braun, the Electrical Engineering Department's DC-DC Exercise Bike, Mechanical Engineering's power generator, and the Energy Harvesting Elliptical Trainer.

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