Missouri S&T earns second place finish in Solar Decathlon with accessible housing design for disabled veterans


Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Solar House Design Team recently earned a second-place finish in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Design Challenge. The virtual competition was held in mid-April. 

Missouri S&T’s house, named the Freedom to Live Independently, Green Housing for Tomorrow (FLIGHT) Home, earned second place in the Suburban Single-Family Housing Division. Seventy-two teams from 12 countries competed by designing energy-efficient homes that were presented virtually to energy and construction industry experts. 

The team says the FLIGHT home represents a net-zero, single-family housing project that combines an environmentally friendly design with technology to grant veterans who have lost lower limbs full mobility in their daily activities. The design includes systems that aim to make cooking, using the restroom and getting dressed easier. 

The team’s design brief states that it would locate the home where there would be optimal access to resources for veterans. S&T’s home was designed for the Rolla area due to its close proximity to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as well as several veteran organizations such as Disabled American Veterans.

The team’s advisors are Dr. Stuart Baur, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at S&T, and Dr. Heath Pickerill, assistant teaching professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at S&T. The team also received design feedback from Daniel Vargas, president and founder of Operation Triage, and Matt Belcher, an officer in Operation Triage. Operation Triage is a non-profit organization that provides home remodeling and renovations to disabled veterans, first responders and active duty service members.  

The Solar House Design Team is one of the 19 student-run teams in Missouri S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC). The SDELC, housed in the Kummer Student Design Center, provides teams with computer design laboratories, a manufacturing shop, office space and logistical support. Design teams mirror small start-up companies that plan large-scale projects, organize into departments, raise funds, communicate their ideas and solve open-ended design challenges. Teams compete annually at events against other collegiate teams from around the country and the world. For more information about the teams, visit design.mst.edu.

The following S&T students are a part of the team:

  • Melorin Azimzadeh, a senior in architectural and civil engineering from Greenwood, Missouri
  • Thomas Bleakney, a junior in business and management systems from Lisbon, Ohio
  • Daryl Gichui, a senior in environmental engineering from Liberty, Missouri
  • Auburn Hughes, a sophomore in engineering management from Kearney, Missouri
  • Ian James, a junior in electrical engineering from Troy, Illinois
  • Alyssa Marshall, a senior in architectural engineering from Willard, Missouri
  • Erika McDaniel, a sophomore in geological engineering from Wildwood, Missouri
  • Aditya Prabhu, a junior in architectural and civil engineering from St. Louis
  • Troy Savaiano, a senior in electrical engineering from Liberty, Missouri
  • Stephen Simmons, a senior in architectural and civil engineering from Lohman, Missouri.