Development of a Rooftop Collaborative Experimental Space through Experiential Learning Projects

Heather S. Rose, Charles R. Upshaw, Joshua D. Rhodes, Yuval Edrey, Michael E. Webber, April 2018 (Citation)

Abstract

The Solar, Water, Energy, and Thermal Laboratory
(SWEAT Lab) is a rooftop experimental space at the
University of Texas at Austin built by graduate and
undergraduate students in the Cockrell School of
Engineering. The project was funded by the Texas State
Energy Conservation Office and the University’s Green
Fee Grant, a competitive grant program funded by UT
Austin tuition fees to support sustainability-related projects
and initiatives on campus. The SWEAT Lab is an on-going
experiential learning facility that enables engineering
education by deploying energy and water-related projects.
To date, the lab contains a full weather station tracking
weather data, a rainwater harvesting system and rooftop
garden.
This project presented many opportunities for students to
learn first hand about unique engineering challenges. The
lab is located on the roof of the 10 story Engineering
Teaching Center (ETC) building, so students had to design
and build systems with constraints such as weight
limitations and wind resistance. Students also gained
experience working with building facilities and
management for structural additions, power, and internet
connection for instruments.
With the Bird’s eye view of UT Austin campus, this unique
laboratory offers a new perspective and dimension to
applied student research projects at UT Austin.