Congratulations to Denis Gracanin, member of the LumenHaus team, which won a Virginia Tech 2010 XCaliber Award.

Publish Date: 05/21/2010

Dr. Gracanin, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, was one of eight faculty members working collaboratively on Virginia Tech's LumenHaus solar decathlon project. The LumenHaus team received the university's 2010 XCaliber Award for excellence in creating and applying technologies on a large scale team project.

The XCaliber Award (shorthand for exceptional, high caliber work) is presented annually by the Virginia Tech Center for Innovation in Learning to recognize individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology in teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches to learning activities. Awardees receive a cash award and are called upon to demonstrate their work.

The LumenHaus team includes members from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Pamplin College of Business, and College of Engineering representing nine academic programs. Members included:

  • Virgilio Centeno, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering;

  • Robert Dunay, T.A. Carter Professor of Architecture;

  • Denis Gracanin, associate professor of computer science;

  • Benjamin Johnson, professor of architecture;

  • Jane Machin, assistant professor of marketing;

  • Andrew McCoy, assistant professor of building construction;

  • Robert Schubert, professor of architecture and associate dean for research; and

  • Joseph Wheeler, associate professor of architecture.

Students and faculty from architecture, industrial design, landscape architecture, building construction, marketing, computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and civil engineering explored new technologies as they integrated teaching, research, and application. The unique opportunity offered by the 2009 solar decathlon competition called for creativity in integrating technology in learning and application activities while enhancing students' education experiences.

The initial phase of the project brought architecture and industrial design students together to explore small-scale applications of new fabrication technologies. The second phase involved a larger group from nine departments and three colleges in the design and construction of an energy efficient, sustainable house powered by the sun.

According to Gracanin, the LumenHaus has a computer interface that manages all of its systems. Many aspects of these systems can be controlled by the user, at home or remotely, through either a computer or a mobile device. For example, the homeowner can turn on and off lights, open and close the sliding doors, lock or unlock the front door, or change the temperature or lights. Dr. Gracanin serves as an advisor to computer science graduate students who have worked to develop the server side interface to the house control systems.

Update (7/5/2010).  Congratulations again to Dr. Gracanin and the LumenHaus team.  Last week they were named winners of the  Solar Decathlon Europe, a 10-day competition held in Madrid, Spain.


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