Solar Decathlon Gives Women Engineering Students a Chance to Shine

Solar Decathlon Gives Women Engineering Students a Chance to Shine

The women on Team Orange County, sponsored by Edison International and SCE, worked on the solar home to be featured at the annual event.

Teagan Barnes, a UCI mechanical engineering major, works on some equipment for Team Orange County’s solar-powered house at their work site at Irvine Valley College.

Reem Habib (left), a UCI urban planning and civil engineering major, and Team Orange County teammate Andy Truong, work on a specially-designed diffuser that will be used with a cold water tank to help cool the solar-powered house they are building.

Members of the Team Orange County Solar Decathlon team at their Irvine Valley College work site. From left: Teagan Barnes, Will Vicent (an SCE adviser), Moritz Limpinsel, Paige Svehlak, Jack Brouwer, UCI engineering professor and decathlon adviser, and Reem Habib.

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Friday, August 21, 2015 - 12:00pm

CONTENT: Article

Steel toe work boots. How hard could it be in Southern California to find work boots? But it was for Reem Habib.

“When I tried to buy steel toe boots, I couldn’t find any in my size — they had no women’s sizes,” she said. She settled for a smaller size in a man’s boot.

It is just one of the adjustments women engineers make in a profession historically dominated by men. As of 2013, only 11.7 percent of engineers in the U.S. were women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Habib needed the boots to work on a solar-powered house she is helping build with other members of Team Orange County for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015. Team Orange County will vie against 16 other college teams Oct. 8-18 to see who can design, build and operate the best solar-powered house that is cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), and SCE donated a combined $400,000 to the solar decathlon and to support Team Orange County. The team is a joint effort of students from Chapman UniversityIrvine Valley CollegeSaddleback College and UCI.

Read full story in Edison's Online Newsroom.