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Solar Competitions for Students Spur Innovation and Energy-Saving Technologies

Two Michigan-based industrial giants have announced sponsorships of separate solar energy competitions that seek to engage students and encourage innovative ideas that advance solar power technology.

Dow Corning Corporation, a company that specializes in silicone and silicon-based technology  “the material foundation of most solar cells” will sponsor the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011.

The biannual competition will be held from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C. The Decathlon will select 20 collegiate teams to compete over the course of two years in the design, construction, and operation of solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

In addition to engaging college students, Dow Corning also announced that it will reach out to middle school students during the competition by creating educational resources that will help them improve their understanding of solar energy and sustainability and reinforce the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math. The resources include a school curriculum for teachers, a Student Welcome & Education Center on the decathlon grounds, and a Solar Decathlon program aimed at middle school students.

Meanwhile, Dow Chemical Company, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, announced the launch of the Dow Solar Design to Zero Competition, an international competition for college students that will award cash prizes for the development of innovative projects that incorporate active and passive solar technologies and other sustainable construction-related solutions in order to design multi-family dwellings that use very little to no energy.

For more information about the Solar Decathlon 2011, visit www.solardecathlon.gov. To learn more about the Dow Solar Design to Zero Competition, visit www.designtozero.com.


“Industrial Spotlight: Dow Solar, Dow Corning Sponsor Separate Solar Competitions,” Midland Daily News, Aug. 21, 2011.

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