The Solar Decathlon is an international competition organised by the U.S. Department of
Energy (USDoE) in collaboration with local hosts (McCarthy, Banfield, Baghi, Faidutti, &
McDowell, 2018). It requires university teams to design, build and operate sustainable, stylish
and cost effective solar powered net-zero energy homes (United States Department of Energy,
2019). In 2016, the University of Wollongong (UOW) entered the Solar Decathlon Middle East
2018 (SDME). This competition integrated local and regional Middle Eastern characteristics,
whilst promoting sustainable and innovative concepts which could be beneficial to all people.
The UOW team’s aim was to construct a sustainably designed house which celebrated human
life in all its diversity, placing a strong emphasis on designing for those living with dementia
(Team UOW, 2019). The Solar Decathlon has been described as an intensive and immersive
authentic learning experience in a multidisciplinary setting, which encourages students to apply
theoretical knowledge learnt, whilst simultaneously developing essential professional and
personal skills (Ortegon, 2016).
This study captures some of the learning outcomes and personal development of Team UOW
students who participated in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018. These outcomes are
explored against the University of Wollongong's Course Learning Outcomes for a Bachelor of
Engineering (Honours) and Engineers Australia’s Stage 1 Competencies.