STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: MEET JULIA

Julia Park traveling in a remote part of Austria.
Julia Park taking a selfie above the clouds, on the highest point of Germany.
Julia Park's prized possession, her dog.


Give us a little background about yourself.

A: Oh goodness. Let’s see. I’m Korean American, and I was born in Dallas, Texas. Not the interesting part of Dallas – I mean the boring suburban part called Garland. I’ve always, always known that I wanted to study architecture – even before I knew what the profession was called. I just remember telling all of my elementary school friends that one day, I would work on buildings. It seemed like it was a great mix of both a technical skillset and an artistic skillset. I realized quite early on that I was quite indecisive with my interests – on the one hand, I was the ‘weird art kid’ and on the other I was president of the robotics club. Now I’m enrolled in the Dual Degree Honors Program at UT, studying both architecture and engineering and I will graduate next year.
I’m a bit of a nerd so my hobbies (outside of architecture, obviously) center mostly around gaming and the internet/technology in general. Hey, there wasn’t that much to do in good ol’ Garland besides go online, okay?

why did you join Solar Decathlon?

A: I remember clearly one particular afternoon in my geology course, I lamented to my professor that I feel guilty that my future profession will inevitably contribute to the wasteful consumption of energy and resources. “I want to build buildings, but I don’t want to be irresponsible.” He looked at me blankly, and simply stated “So don’t.”
Solar Decathlon was one way for me to really learn how to put architectural sustainability into practice and to make a small effort to change the way we build.

what is your role in the UT-TUM team?

A: Initially I was involved with researching and designing the building envelope for the NexusHaus. However, I realized there was a huge potential to incorporate technology into our net-zero energy home.
Now, I am the project manager/leader of the NexSmart – Smart Home project. My team and I are developing a smart home system for NexusHaus that will really modernize the way we think about and interact with our home. It’s quite different from other ‘smart home technology’ in that it merges the concepts of sustainability with automation. We’ve had to implement a surprising amount of interdisciplinary knowledge; I have to ensure and facilitate good communication between the the mechanical/electrical team, architectural team, interiors team, and our smart-home team.
Keep an eye out for our smart home during the competition! :)

what have you enjoyed most about your experience so far?

A: By far, the most enjoyable part of this entire experience has been working with a team full of students who are incredibly motivated to learn and, more importantly, make a difference. From Munich to Austin, I’ve had the opportunity to meet brilliant professors and students who I have learned a great deal from. My second favorite part was, well, the getting-to-travel-around-Europe part; I grew so much as a person when I experienced cultures who place so much more importance on sustainability than we do here in the States.

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

A: WINNING THE SOLAR DECATHLON 2015!!! Okay, perhaps I’m speaking too soon. Honestly, I am truly excited just to go and see our home in the competition. Our laborious efforts thus far will come to a great conclusion at the competition, no matter what. Also, I’ve been in my undergraduate studies for five years so that sweet, sweet goal of graduation is right around the corner…

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

A: A lot of the building industry is quite unresponsive to change. I think this competition helps make the general public and industry see that sustainability is not some sort of well-to-do-hippies-only movement – but that it is entirely achievable with just a bit of learning and rethinking. The industry is quite cautious – it’s hard to believe something will work until it’s put into practice.
The number one most important thing I hope Solar Decathlon achieves is to change the general public’s view of sustainability. None of the industry’s sustainable efforts will matter if the people don’t accept it.

how do you like living in Austin?

A: It’s great. :) It’s like a better, more exciting/lively Garland with many more activities and a population whose average age is under 50. Actually…scratch that, it’s nothing like my hometown.

are you a cat or dog person

A: WOOF.

what is your favorite color?

A: White. Err, does that count…?

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

A: Munich.

anything else we should know?

A: I currently like DotA and CS:GO.

May 1, 2015 by Ariana Hallenbeck in NexusNews

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