Student Spotlight: Meet Charlie

Charles Upshaw and his wife celebrating his birthday at Jester King Brewery and Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza.
Charles Upshaw races bicycles for the UT Cycling team. Here he is claiming his prize for winning the overall season for Cyclocross (a cycling discipline) in their conference.
Charles Upshaw's two dogs, Champ and Lok, doing what they do best.

Give us a little background about yourself.

A: I am a 5th year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at UT Austin. I am an Austin native (born and raised), and married to my high school sweetheart, Emily. He have two dogs, Champ and Loki, who we rescued 6 years ago, and live in a house in north central Austin. I like riding bikes, gardening, generally just being outside, and spending time with my wife and dogs.

why did you join Solar Decathlon?

A: I joined the solar decathlon team because the ‘Energy-Water Nexus’ theme of the application was right in line with my research on integrated thermal energy and water storage systems for residential houses. I was also very interested in learning more about residential house design and construction.

what is your role in the UT-TUM team?

A: I am one of the Team Captains and the Project Engineer, so I have many roles and responsibilities. In general, my goal is to help make sure the team is on track and progressing toward meeting all of our deliverables and deadlines. From an engineering standpoint, it is my job to oversee the effort on designing and building the house’s mechanical (HVAC), electrical, and plumbing systems. I have worked extensively on the HVAC and plumbing systems since that is the area of my PhD research.

what have you enjoyed most about your experience so far?

A: My most enjoyable experience so far on this project was going to Munich last fall to meet with the team over there. Aside from seeing Munich, I also got to participate in an overnight excursion to Austria to see several examples of modern timber construction. I had not been to Munich before (or Europe for that matter), so having that experience was amazing.

what are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

A: I am looking forward to two things: competing in the Solar Decathlon competition, and Graduating in December. It will be great to see the culmination of all my time and effort come to fruition for

what do you think the impacts of Solar Decathlon (or hope) are on the industry/architecture/the general public?

A: I would like to see our house (and Solar Decathlon in general) push the residential housing market forward in terms of sustainable design and technological innovation. I think there are a lot of great ideas, design strategies, and technologies that are being developed, I would like to see those translate over into real-world implementation.

how do you like living in Austin?

A: I absolutely love living in Austin, which is why I haven’t left for school or work. There is so much to do, and a laid-back and friendly attitude that makes it all so enjoyable. I love riding my bike all around the Austin/Central Texas area, and there are so many great places to eat all kinds of awesome food. I might be enticed to move some place with great cycling/snowboarding/outdoors for a time, but I think I will always come back.

where do you see yourself in five years?

A: I see myself in the midst of some sort of entrepreneurial pursuit, possibly with a company I have started or as part of an early stage start-up. I like working on new ideas and chasing opportunities as they come, so it is hard to say exactly what I will be doing, but I think something in the general area of energy and sustainability.

who is your favorite architect?

A: As someone who is not (yet) well versed in the field, I will instead go with the quintessential Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci. I think our society needs more people who are interested and trained in more than just one field or skill, which is part of the reason I got involved with the Solar Decathlon team.

what is your favorite city that you have been to (thus far)?

A: I had a truly wonderful experience in Munich, and loved the atmosphere and history of that city. My wife and I spent a few days walking around experiencing the city, but I feel like there was so much more to see. I would love to go back!

where do you want to visit most?

A: I haven’t done much globetrotting, and I am so interested in seeing so many places, so it’s hard to pick just one. This summer I am going to Athens for my sister’s wedding and Edinburgh, Scotland for a conference, so I am really looking forward to seeing those places.

Apr 17, 2015 by Ariana Hallenbeck in NexusNews

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