Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Something New!

AND......... just when I was getting a little bored doing the same old thing at work day-in and day-out, I'm slapped in the face with what has undoubtedly been the most exciting and interesting experience I've had so far as an apprentice.

I'm talking about the Solar Decathlon, which is currently taking place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Solar Decathlon is a competition between twenty teams from colleges and universities around the world to design and build the best and most energy-efficient house possible. It's called a "decathlon" because there are actually 10 different categories in which each team's house will be judged. For a full description of the competition, visit this website:

I was very, very lucky to have been asked, along with five other apprentices from Local 26, to participate as a volunteer in this year's competition. So, from last Thursday through this Monday, the six of us and two of our instructors set out to lend a hand wherever we were needed on the Mall.

It's situations like these that make you realize what a valuable set of skills we learn as we become electricians. Once we made the teams aware that we were available to help, we were constantly busy getting their electrical installations up to snuff. Our group did a lot of work with grounding for the houses, tying in meters and panels, and, of course, installing solar panels! The teams were all extremely appreciative of our help, and we were equally (if not more-so!) appreciative of the opportunity to be involved. Personally, having worked predominantly on commercial installations throughout my time as an apprentice, I'd never had the chance to tie-in a meter on a house or even drive a ground rod. And I'd also never worked with any solar installations or any DC systems whatsoever. In the five days I spent on the Mall at the decathlon, I feel like I gained a year or two's worth of exposure. What a great time!

Anyone who's interested in electrical work, alternative energy, and the future of our field should take a couple of hours and tour the houses on the Mall once they open to the public on October 9th. I'll be there myself just to take a more complete look at the final products and to talk to the students about the amazing technologies and concepts they have incorporated into their designs.

I have plenty more to say about our time volunteering at the decathlon. Right now, I'm still processing it all! I send a hearty thank-you to the local and our JATC for getting our union involved in such a great project!


  1. So jealous!!! Wish I was there. I'm glad to know that our local is getting involved with such progressive activities like the Solar Decathalon! I've been interested in this stuff for so long, and it makes me immensely proud that we're out there! Congrats Adam.

  2. Cool stuff man I hope I'm a part of the next one.