Hello everybody! My name is MihaiToader-Pasti, I’m Miodrag Popov, Nice meeting you all. Firstly, you need to be warned, this is no a solar mission.
Two years ago if you had asked what ‘’prispa’ is, you would have found out that it is the front part of a Romanian traditional house.
Now, the answer may be different, because PRISPA is the first Romanian team ever to participate at the Solar Decathlon Competition. As Miodrag has told you, the competition took place in September 2012, but the team started way earlier, in August 2010. Since then over 90 students and professors from 4 major universities from Bucharest, Construction, Polytechnics, Architecture and Arts worked together for what we now call the PRISPA House. We were from the very beginning a team of students, eager to show Romania what we are capable of and, I believe, we did a great job of it.
Working as much as we did we learned lots of stuff and met a lot of wonderful people. We did that for 2 years and we loved it. Meanwhile we expanded our horizons, we began to see the problems from atop, to understand how things work in order to improve their functions. This was an experience that changed us. I am talking to you right now as PRISPA student team leader and in a couple of minutes I will do the same as TeamBUC project manager. This is what PRISPA has done to me. Being such a complex competition, we formed a multidisciplinary team, therefore we learned many things from different domains. We developed our communication skills, we learned how to think pragmatically and even more than that, we started the process of preparing for postgraduate life while we were still in school. We learned what respect means, for colleagues, for deadlines and tasks, knowing that someone was counting on us made us more responsible.
It wasn’t all fun and games, after 2 years of hard work we reached the point of going to Madrid and not having the necessary money. We received them 3 days before the deadline. We traveled to Madrid by bus for 3 days without stopping, we worked in day shifts, night shifts, all shifts and at times there would be up to 8 people sleeping in a single room. We were extremely tired and moreover, we were under an incredible pressure, the stakes were high, but beside all that, it was a lovely experience. Romania has a lot of things that can be improved in the educational system and one of them is actually practicing what you learned, because this is a key piece in the educational domino.
We were the first initiative of this kind. Students, aided by professors and companies, were working together to build an extremely efficient solar house. And we did it well. In Madrid we won 2nd place for Energy Efficiency and 4th place for Energy Balance. Moreover, we were on the 2nd place for Public Choice Award. We ranked 9th out of 18 teams across the globe. Instead of thinking about everything that could go wrong we found that it is more important to act. It is ok to be afraid, but act. Raise your hand and you are further than 90% of the population.
Being in Madrid for 5 weeks, working, partying, playing, sharing a meal with over 500 students and professors from Europe to Asia and America, all having the same interests, you have the opportunity to meet other cultures, to share your ideas, to see what everyone is doing, what difficulties they faced, how they work.
It was late in October when we were dining in Madrid and the whole PRISPA team had gathered to lunch, a couple of days before departure. I remember Oana, a colleague, asking who was going to continue for the 2014 edition. After 3 seconds I raised my hand. And so did 5 others. Together we wrote the technical proposal and on the 21st we received the answer, we were qualified among those 20 teams! I cannot express the joy I felt. We did that because we believed we owed it to the ones following in our footsteps, the ones that were going to experience the same thing we did.
We are now over 40 studentsfrom the same universities as before, all very passionate about this new road ahead of us. Everything is different now; we had to design the project from scratch. We started by identifying a problem, then finding the solution and after, we started implementing it. Our aim is to solve 2 problems, one of them is urban density and the other is Romania’s research housing industry.
The urban densityproblem will be solved by building in Bucharest’s fragmented center. There’s a struggle inside every one of us, on one side we want to be close to the working place, to education facilities, and other leisure places, and on the other we want to escape from Bucharest, to come to Iasi and enjoy the absence of noise, pollution and dust. We believe that living in a greenhouse successfully combines all your needs.
Our building philosophy extends, however, to the whole process of production. We want to create a feedback network between researchers, designers, producers, consumers and the object itself, a relationship that starts in the design phase and continues long after building the house, through performance monitoring.
Influencing the educational process is not easy, changing habits is not easy. There are still a lot of students who don’t know what to do next, if they truly like the job they are preparing for, professors disappointed by the student’s lack of interest and society which doesn’t give us an easy step-by-step tutorial. Now it is up to youto do what is best for you, your team and your country.
In 2010 few persons in Romania knew about Solar Decathlon competition and in 2012 PRISPA was the first Romanian team ever to participate. People didn’t believe we could make it, but we proved them wrong.For the year to come, we are two participating teams. What we continuously demonstrated is that “Yes, we can”. It is not an easy journey, it pushes you beyond your limits every day but this is where its beauty lies in. Believein yourself and start doing!