Students win $75K for solar window

Jake Parrish
WWU Communications and Marketing intern

A team of chemistry, engineering, design and business students at Western Washington University and University of Washington will gain a giant leap forward after the Environmental Protection Agency awarded them a $75,000 dollar grant this past weekend. The team presented a prototype of a Smart Solar Window at the EPA P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet competition in Washington, D.C., a sustainable design competition between over 30 universities around the United States.

The team, made up of seven Western students and one University of Washington student, designed a Smart Solar Window, the first completely transparent window that harnesses energy from the sun, converts it to electricity and cuts down on a building’s HVAC costs by 10 to 30 percent. The window is capable of wireless operation, such as from a phone, computer or a building’s ventilation system, and automatically opens and closes to provide cooling and ventilation. The EPA awarded the team $15,000 to initially develop the prototype and bring it to Washington, D.C. for the P3 competition for a chance to win the $75,000 grant. The grant money will be used to further develop the prototype.

“The interdisciplinary team dynamic has been very valuable and exciting to be a part of,” Western student and project manager James Mayther said in a recent press release before the trip. “The exposure I have gained to different academic disciplines and varying student’s expertise has helped to further broaden my horizons and knowledge base.”

Mayther, a business and economics major, said the goal of the project is to receive the much-needed funding that’s necessary to take the solar window to the market scale.

“The team has prepared for this competition through staying organized, constantly communicating with one another with our individual progress, and most importantly we all have a passion for participating in solving the world’s contemporary energy sustainability challenges,” Mayther said in the release. “I am truly privileged and honored to be a part of a group of people that puts in so much hard work for the project, on top of their already busy full time class loads and sometimes other work schedules.”

The team posted news of their triumph on Facebook and Twitter earlier today:


Congratulations to the #smartsolarwindow team for winning the 2015 @eparesearch #epap3 competition! One step closer to cleaner, greener, carbon neutral cities!

Posted by WWU Solar Window on Monday, April 13, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015 - 12:22pm