MORGANTOWN — The WVU and University of Rome Tor Vergata Solar Decathlon team is back – and the nearly 50 students involved are ready to design, build and operate an affordable, attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house as part of the 2015 competition sponsored by the United States Department of Energy.

And make no mistake: they are ready to win.

That was the message delivered Wednesday, July 29, as WVU leadership announced its selection as one of 16 schools to participate in the 2015 competition held Oct. 8-18 in Irvine, California.

"This is an exciting time for West Virginia University as it enters the grand stage that is the Solar Decathlon," said WVU President Gordon Gee. “We are proud to have global partners at the University of Rome Tor Vergata standing side-by-side with us. This type of collaboration — which stretches beyond borders — is key to the vitality of the future of technology and energy-efficiency living. We need new options, new ideas and new visioning. And that is where these students come into play. The world is relying on their ingenuity and innovation. I believe some of that will emerge from this competition."

The 16 schools making the trip to Irvine have spent nearly two years from vision to execution to make their sun-powered homes a reality.

In order to maximize their time and talents, WVU partnered for the second time with the University of Rome Tor Vergata to produce a house that merges Italian and Appalachian design concepts with innovative energy techniques to demonstrate that comfort doesn’t need to be sacrificed in order to live with solar power.

The 10 students from Italy arrived on campus in early July and will remain in the United States to assist with the WVU team’s efforts until the competition in October.

The schools combined their strengths to develop a design and agreed on the name STILE, which stands for Sustainable Technologies Integrated in a Learning Experience. Their vision was to design the structure to be simplistic and compact, covered by an elegant, Roman-inspired arch. The house maximizes public spaces, promotes an open flow with the outdoors and shades the house.

Executing their vision for design required an interdisciplinary approach. The students built a dynamic cross-section of students with broad skills and academic strengths.

The project is led by students in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, but includes contributions from the College of Creative Arts, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences who play integral roles in the execution of the project, such as helping to raise additional support beyond the $100,000 grant from the DOE. The total cost of the house cannot exceed $250,000.

In order to raise the funds needed to build the house, the team has launched a crowd-funding initiative, which can be accessed at Gifts-in-kind are also needed. Interested sponsors can contact Solar Decathlon team member Lauren Hogan at or Statler College Associate Director of Development Heather Cross at or (304) 293-4156.