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KNOXVILLE — Team Living Light from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was one of eight award finalists from the United States in an international competition for innovative educational projects.

Organized by the Qatar Foundation, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) award competition was initiated last year. This year’s competition focused on “Transforming Education: Innovation, Investment and Inclusion.” Four hundred project applications were submitted from 89 countries.

The UT team’s project was the Living Light house, a marketable, functioning, solar-powered house that the group has been designing and will soon begin building. The team is an interdisciplinary group of UT students and faculty, primarily from the colleges of Architecture and Design and Engineering.

Though Team Living Light was not a winner of one of the six WISE Awards, the team was among an elite group of competitors from the U.S. and abroad.

The other finalists from the U.S. included the Open Learning Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University; PocketSchool, Palo Alto, Calif.; Open Educational Resources Commons Teacher Training, Half Moon Bay, Calif.; T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Project, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Illuminations, Reston, Va.; and JSTOR Plant Science, Princeton, N.J.

The eighth U.S. finalist was submitted by a team from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and was the only U.S. project among the six global winners of the WISE Award 2010.

The other WISE Award-winning projects were submitted from organizations and institutions in Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

“We are honored to be recognized among other prestigious schools and organizations, some of whom are taking on challenging social and educational issues in third-world countries,” said Lauren Rogers, a research specialist on the Living Light project. “Opportunities like this allow the team to reach a much wider audience, helping us spread the word about what we are doing here in Tennessee.”

The Living Light house primarily has been designed for entry into the 2011 Solar Decathlon, which will take place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the fall of next year.

While winning the Solar Decathlon may be the team’s most-sought prize, Team Living Light has entered and will continue to enter its project into competitions along the way. Some competition entries have been schematic boards for the Living Light house. In others, the team has submitted their UT Zero House prototype, a model for which the Living Light house has been designed.

“As we move forward from UT Zero and work toward the Solar Decathlon, the team continues to enter the projects and our educational model into various competitions. This opens the door to criticism, which betters our team, as well as funding for construction and the continuation of this hands-on, interdisciplinary education that UT is providing,” Rogers added, noting that UT Zero also has recently received an AIA East Tennessee award for the UT Zero project.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a leading effort to improve Qatar’s research base and turn the country into an advanced producer of knowledge and innovation. For more information about the foundation and the WISE awards, visit

For more information about the Living Light house, visit


Lauren Rogers, (865-974-6113,

Kristi Hintz, (865-974-3993,