Anna Osborne: service and solar power


Anna Osborne in Missouri S&T’s Solar Village. Photo by B.A. Rupert

After three trips to the tiny mountain village of Tacachia, Bolivia, Anna Osborne has discovered an appreciation for the simple things of life.

“The people there don’t have a lot, but they are so content with what they have,” says Osborne, a senior in civil and architectural engineering.

For the past three years, Osborne and other members of Missouri S&T’s Engineers Without Borders chapter have been working with the villagers of Tacachia to design and build a water distribution system. Now Osborne is focusing her extracurricular efforts on another small — but more modern — village.

A member of the Missouri S&T Solar House Team, Osborne is also the latest resident of S&T’s Solar Village, a neighborhood of four solar-powered homes designed and constructed by Solar House Team members. The homes were built in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009 for an international design competition known as the Solar Decathlon. Each year of the event, the team would haul the newly built house to Washington, D.C., and reconstruct it on the Capital Mall for the 10-day competition. S&T’s 2009 entry, which Osborne helped construct, attracted the most visitors of any entries that year.

This semester, Osborne inhabits the 2005 house. Like the other Solar Village structures, the house is limited to an 800-square-foot roof footprint. That makes it much smaller than typical American homes.
But Osborne doesn’t mind. As she learned from her EWB experience, bigger isn’t always better. Besides, she plans to design and build solar homes as part of her career.

Designing and building homes for the Solar Decathlon “is a very realistic project that has applications to the real world,” she says. “It’s also very interdisciplinary because you’re designing structural, mechanical, electrical, heating and cooling systems.”
As the team’s public relations director, she helps coordinate Solar Village tours and design displays for the team to use at various events. She also serves as editor for the team’s newsletter.

It’s a job many engineering types may avoid. But Osborne recognizes the value of public relations.
“It’s very important, especially for engineers, to learn how to communicate and to promote yourself and your organization,” she says. “You can’t succeed without PR.”

For her accomplishments, Osborne received Missouri S&T’s Woman Student of the Year Award during Homecoming.

By Andrew Careaga
Read more about Osborne’s EWB trips to Bolivia here, here and here.
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