With the help of Cooper B-Line, a team from the University of Texas at Austin participated in finals of the 2002 Solar Decathlon — an event where students compete to design, build and operate the most effective and efficient solar-powered home.

From Sept. 26, 2002, through Oct. 6, 2002, 14 teams representing an array of universities converged upon the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to establish a village of self-sustaining houses powered solely by energy captured from the sun. Each home, no more than 800 square-feet in area, needed to capture, convert, store and use enough solar energy to power the home, a home-based business and transportation needs of the household and business.

Incorporating an Airstream RV trailer into its design, the team from the University of Texas at Austin developed an innovative solution that helped them take home honors for the Best Logistics Plan.

The RV trailer, docked neatly in the center of the home, serves as the central housing unit for the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Surrounding the trailer is a modular-framed home that was designed for easy assembly and disassembly.

Cooper B-Line, Highland, Ill., supplied the team with steel strut for the home. Commonly used in electrical, mechanical and industrial support applications, the team used the strut as the metal framing for the home. This breakthrough provided two quick advantages — it made quick assembly and disassembly possible while also providing a built-in wiring conduit, creating a pre-wired module system.

The Solar Decathlon is an international competition open to students enrolled in all postsecondary levels of education. Students worked more than a year in planning, designing and building the homes.