It may sound odd when I say a week-long event completed a couple of months ago left a legacy. However, a legacy can be defined as something from the past that enriches beneficiaries in the present and future, and I believe the 2007 Solar Decathlon will provide benefits well beyond its duration.
I believe the same can be said of NECA’s efforts to develop and capitalize on the potential of the next generation. That applies whether we’re talking about next-generation technology, next-generation markets or, simply, the young people who will be the next generation of our industry.
Created to raise awareness about photovoltaic technology, the Solar Decathlon is a competition for sustainable residential design sponsored by the Department of Energy and other organizations. For this year’s contest, teams at 20 universities designed and built demonstration solar-powered houses that were then brought to the National Mall in Washington for public display and to be judged on energy efficiency and design.
As previously reported in this magazine, ELECTRI International, NECA’s industry research foundation, provided a substan-tial grant to the team from Pennsylvania State University. And, as reported in this month’s NECA Notes (page 169), our Washington, D.C., Chapter supported the University of Maryland’s entry, and member companies supplied skilled, knowledge-able electricians to assist with safe and efficient installation of photovoltaic systems for the entire “Solar Village” on the Mall.
In the final judging, Maryland earned second place, bested only by Technische Universität Darmstadt from Germany. Penn State came in fourth overall out of 20 teams. (You can read all about it on page 46 and at www.solardecathlon.org.)
Penn State’s entry is now back at the University Park campus where it is serving as a permanent renewable energy research lab and educational facility. I’m sure all the other competitors also are using their Decathlon experience as a foundation for future research and continuing learning, which will help bring about advances in sustainable design. That is why I say the Solar Decathlon has enriched us with a legacy.
A bit of Decathlon trivia points to another NECA initiative that promises a big future payout. Two institutions that com-peted there have something else in common: the University of Kansas and Georgia Tech host NECA Student Chapters. NECA is working hard to attract capable young people to the management side of our industry in light of the shortage of qualified managers available to electrical contractors, and tactics include establishing NECA Student Chapters at colleges and universities and encouraging and facilitating the development of construction management degree programs.
And that brings me to another legacy pertinent to this discussion: the Emerson Hamilton Scholarship. An article in Novem-ber’s NECA Notes section reports that the fund named in honor of this late, great NECA leader will provide scholarships for both students and faculty members of university construction management programs and NECA Student Chapters. It will also encourage such worthy activities as providing students with internships with NECA-member contractors and field trips to mem-bers’ offices and work sites to further their education in the world of electrical contracting.
Thus, this scholarship program builds on a good foundation that is already in place while at the same time facilitating future expansion and improvement. It is the legacy of Emerson Hamilton’s leadership.
And, it arises from the same nexus as our Student Chapter Program, our work in understanding and developing emerging markets and, in fact, most of our association’s activities. The common goal is to create conditions most conducive to the suc-cess of industry participants—now and for years to come.
That is NECA’s legacy, and we are all beneficiaries.