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Student profile: Luca Faidutti shares what drives his success

Design and Construction Manager, Luca Faidutti on the job with the Desert Rose house project.

Originally moving to Australia from far northern Italy to pursue his elite triathlon training, international student Luca Faidutti has been running a race of a different kind - and winning.

Luca swapped Italy's harsh winter for the welcoming shores of Wollongong while on a six month study break to pursue his training. Having previously done a school exchange to Kiama High, his connection with the south coast was further embedded, and he chose to complete his tertiary studies in Wollongong. In 2014, Luca transferred to UOW from his Italian university in Trento to complete his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering.

While studying hard and using his elite sportsman mentality to stay focused on his goals, he clocked up a string of academic and extra-curricular achievements including; Civil Engineering Dean's Scholar, graduating with First Class Honours (Scholar) in 2017, receiving the 2017 UOWx Award and being recognised as Outstanding Student Leader of the Year 2017, among several other accolades.

In the final year of his undergraduate degree, Luca volunteered to be part of the Desert Rose House, Team UOW Australia-Dubai, who will be competing in the Solar Decathlon Middle East in November this year.

His ambitious nature had him hungry for more challenges and after enjoying the experience so much, in December 2016, Luca applied for a PhD scholarship for students interested in becoming leaders on the project.

Despite not yet completing his degree or having much industry experience - two key criteria - Luca was awarded the scholarship and became the Desert Rose House Design and Construction Manager.

Now one year into his PhD studies, Luca plans to do his thesis on Building Information Modelling (BIM) which will look at how technology can minimise construction timeframe and building material wastage using computer software that provides a visual insight into the building outcome ahead of the completed construction.

But his focus for now is leading the Desert Rose House team as they build a house for people living with dementia. He says it's been an intense yet fulfilling experience.

"The competition requires students to design, build and operate a fully functional, net-zero energy house, meaning the houses will produce the same amount of energy as they consume. The project started almost two and a half years ago and it's been a big design process.

"The house is built from scratch and we took a health approach on top of a sustainability approach, designing the house specifically for people living with dementia or age-related diseases. We're trying to design a house so that these people can live longer in their home.

"Based on the research our PhD students at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre did, which involved going into these elderly people's homes and assessing their situation, we thought there's no one in Australia at the moment who has designed anything for these people.

"The whole design, the location of the rooms is based around the line of sight. For people living with dementia, line of sight and specific visual cues and items around the house is extremely important," Luca explained.

The house has been constructed at Wollongong Tafe over the last six months. The team will then dismantle and move it to the Innovation Campus where they will reconstruct it in 15 days as per the competition rules, as a practise run before the actual competition later this year. The final product will be open for staff, students and the community to view the week of July 16-22. A Sustainability Festival is planned for July 21 and 22, with food stalls, music, kids activities and speakers, where the public will be able to tour the house.

As far as life after UOW, Luca says he hopes to be able to work on similar meaningful building projects when he completes his studies.

"Our Desert Rose house is the first step to making a concrete difference in the world. If you asked me five years ago where I was going to end up, I would not have guessed Australia, so who knows where I will end up but regardless of location, I want to do something that actually creates a real difference," he said.

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