Over the last several years, Uponor has been donating product to project homes participating in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition. It’s my favorite Uponor project to facilitate! Why? Because it’s amazing to see what happens when you put the collective intellect and enthusiasm of a group of students from various academic backgrounds together.

The students, affectionately called decathletes, are probably smarter than the average adult, extremely hard working and more driven than the typical leader you encounter on college campuses. These ambitious decathletes spend upwards of two years planning, designing and building energy-efficient homes for the competition. And did I mention that the house has to be powered by the sun, built on campus, dismantled and rebuilt at the place of competition? No small challenge.

This year Uponor donated product for two homes with students coming from four different Southern California schools and two different schools in Missouri. They worked incredible hours to pull together two very different-looking houses; yet each appealing with its own sense of design, function and beauty.

The Southern California house earned the title “Most Innovative House” and placed ninth overall, while the Missouri students, representing Drury University and Crowder College, came in eighth place.

I take a bow to these dedicated students who, with regular course loads, tests and homework, also were able to build an energy-efficient solar-powered home in a prestigious national competition. These are our future leaders of America! Congratulations students!