Team Orange County Receives $150,000 from Edison International for 2015 Solar Decathlon

UC Irvine, Chapman University, Saddleback and Irvine Valley Colleges will collaborate to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored competition.

November 06, 2014 | By Tami Bui

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Seven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Loyola Marymount University student Daniel Hinojosa visited the city in 2012 to help build homes for many of the victims.

“Here we were many years after the hurricane, and the region was still devastated. There were many homes still needing to be built,” he said. “It made me think about how homes need to be sustainable as well as affordable for families. That experience inspired me to do something to give back to the community.”  

With a degree in communications from LMU, Hinojosa decided to pursue a certificate in architectural drafting technology from Saddleback College. Here he learned about Team Orange County and the solar decathlon, a biennial international competition.

Team Orange County — a venture between UC Irvine, Chapman University, Saddleback and Irvine Valley Colleges — will build “Casa Del Sol,” a solar-powered house, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition. Hinojosa is the team’s architecture lead. 

“For several years, Edison International has supported both individual teams as well as the solar decathlon as part of our philanthropic commitment to education, advanced programs in science, technology, education and math,” said SCE President Pedro Pizarro, who spoke at the recent Team Orange County groundbreaking at Irvine Valley College. Edison International recently donated $150,000 to Team Orange County.

The next solar decathlon — a competition that challenges college teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost effective and energy efficient — will take place next Oct. 8-18 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. Competing will be Team Orange County, a group comprised of nearly 100 students from the four colleges with a diverse range of majors and backgrounds. 

“Team Orange County is the only team in the competition to leverage a broad range of academic and training institutions, bringing together students from public universities, private institutions and community colleges and exposing them all to the power and potential of science and engineering,” said Alex McDonald, project manager of Team Orange County and a mechanical engineering graduate student at UC Irvine. “Team Orange County is the future of California's technology and clean energy workforce.”

This collaboration is what attracted Christina Yoo, a business administration student from Chapman University, to Team Orange County, one of 17 teams that will compete in the 2015 decathlon.

“I thought it would be exciting to work with different students from different institutions and disciplines,” said Yoo, the communications and marketing lead for Team Orange County. “I like seeing people’s faces when I tell them that I’m working on actually building a home.”

In addition to Edison International’s financial support, Yoo appreciates the mentorship she has received from the company’s employees.

“I really enjoy and appreciate that I get to learn from professionals and not just in a classroom,” she said. “I see this experience as an opportunity to get hands-on training and apply real-life lessons to help the overall project.”

The diversity of the students on Team Orange County reflects the envisioned future workforce of Edison International. 

“Just as the solar decathlon competition brings together students from all kinds of backgrounds, we do the same in our outreach efforts,” said Angela Delgado, SCE manager of University and Campus Relations. “We partner with business units to provide a meaningful work experience for students working toward undergraduate and graduate degrees. They are integrated into our teams, working on real issues that lead to innovation.”

Edison is currently looking for college seniors and recent graduates for internships in a variety of areas, including: engineering, business, marketing, computer sciences, environmental sciences and graphic design. For more information, visit: edisoncollegejobs.com.

“Whether it’s through philanthropy or our internship program, investing in our communities through education also creates a pipeline for Edison’s future workforce and helps ensure that the diversity within our communities is reflected within our company,” said Delgado.

Topics: People