Chip is a solar, net-zero house: the Compact Hyper Insulated Prototype. It’s also the house we’re building for the Solar Decathalon at the Mall in Washington DC this fall!! Caltech and Sci-Arc, an architectural school in East LA, formed a team to build this house. You should definitely check out the website here.
The Solar Decathalon is (as described in the website linked above), “a U.S. Department of Energy Sponsored competition which challenges20 architecture and engineering schoolsfrom around the world to design and build a solar-powered, “net-zero” house. Every two years,these 20teams are chosen among 100+ entries to compete in this important competition.” Our Team California is building a flashy new housespecifically targeted at the SoCal area. (It might take a few years for the style to take hold!)
Chip is meant to be a two-person house with a flashy, efficient interior aware of its exterior environment!
A group of students from Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) began the project a few years back (most of them just graduated - but they’re still helping with the house!). Last year, the project became a ME / EE / CS class. [I took the class first term, but didn’t have time the second two terms :( ]. This summer, the house is being built by a tough group of Techers + architects!
There was definitely some … collaberation… that needed to be done with the architects (who cared how the house looked) and the engineers (who didn’t *really *care about how nice the lamps were, but about how much energy they used :) ). The architects decided to put the insulation on the outside of the house - that’s the skin you can see in the pictures. That posed some challenges with mounting the solar panels on the roof. A lot of the stuff Caltech students worked on is here.
They finally have a house designed now (good thing too, since the DOE has documentation deadlines!). Since two of these Techers, Hima and Sara, are on ESW board with me, I hear a lot about how the house is going. They’re working on a pretty tight schedule, so I went with them on Saturday to help build the house / see how it was going. It looks AMAZING [and I got to see the solar panel + skin solution]!
Interestingly, the team I worked on fall term was the PV (photovoltaics, a fancy way to say solar panel + system) team – and I got to work on the solar panels on Saturday! We attached tigo units to the panels. These units will maximize the efficiency of each panel and send data on the performace of each panel to our CS team. I also got to climb on the roof and work on the wiring for the solar panels! By then, it was pretty late and it was really nice on the roof:
They mounted the PVs Sunday night, and are finishing the interior of the house this week. On Sunday, they’ll start disasembling the house and shipping it over to DC. I have to give a lot of credit to Hima and the rest of the crew working on this house. In the last few weeks especially, they’ve been working 12 hours a day 7 days a week trying to finish the house. They deserve a lot of credit! The team is flying to DC in early September, and they’ll be there through the end of the competition in early October.
Hima and I also had some fun playing with metal screws and an electric drill in a very tight containment behind the laundry room:
We got some of the walls ready for painting (though many will remain as wood) too, and worked on a lot of other house-building necessities.
For dinner, the Caltech students went to Little Tokyo which is really close by. I got some yummy white peaches in the grocery store there! I love white peaches. I think I’m getting fruit-spoiled. CA grows tons of fruit and veggies, and there’s a huge variety of everything here. There’s also a Pasadena farmers market each week that I try to go to.
It was super fun! We were working from about 9 am to 10 pm (minus food + water breaks!) and got a lot done. I wish the team best of luck in DC, but regardless of how they do in the competition, it’s been a great project and I really commend how hard they’ve all been working!!! This post does not do the house justice, so I really recommend going to their website! GO CHIP!!!
I’d also like to give credit for all the images here - the images of CHIP shown here were all taken from the Chip website!
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.