Charles Beckendorf is a graduate student studying architecture at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a native of San Antonio and enjoys all things basketball in his spare time.
I have really enjoyed my time working on the UT Solar Decathlon project. I first decided to get involved with this project to get some first hand experience on the construction aspect of architecture. I think it is very valuable to understand the construction of an actual project and to see one through from the beginning design phase to the building’s completion. However, what I got out of my involvement was much, much more than this simple understanding. I was able to work with students from all around the United States, as well as from Thailand, professors from right here in Austin and as far as the Czech Republic, and of course with the Liedl family from Munich. I have befriended professors, students, electricians, volunteers, contractors, and my on site “amigo” Jakob Liedl, our advisor, Petra Liedl’s son. Everyone working on this project bonded very fast, and the friendly conversation helped to take our minds off of Texas’ summer heat. Although it has been a very mild summer where the rain has become more worrisome that the heat, something that Texans are not used to. I have made friendships during my time on this project that I will never forget, and that is where I believe the real value is, when students come together to do the impossible and build an incredibly efficient and sustainable alternative to the average Austin home.