Ty and Deb Newell live in Urbana Illinois in Equinox House, their 100% solar energy powered home. “The Sun Catcher”, their Ford Focus EV, is solar powered, too.
Deb is an elementary school librarian and is active in children’s reading programs. She is a nationally board certified teacher. Deb was born on Staten Island NY and grew up in North Merrick, Long Island. She received a BA from Wagner College, an MEd in educational media from the University of Utah and an MLS from the University of Illinois.
Ty is a mechanical engineer working with his son, Ben, at their company (Equinox Built Environment Engineering) where they are inventing technologies for designing and building healthy, sustainable lifestyle solutions. He is also an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois where his teaching and research focused on solar energy, energy efficiency, energy conversion and resource conservation.
Ty’s graduate degrees (MS, 1978 and PhD, 1980) are in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah with thesis and dissertation researches in solar energy. He established the University of Illinois Solar Energy Laboratory in the early 1980’s, built the University of Illinois Salt Gradient Solar Pond in 1986 (largest solar thermal energy collection and storage system in Illinois); and was a faculty adviser for the University of Illinois 2007 Solar Decathlon team. Ty has lectured widely around the world on solar energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation and energy conversion processes including invited keynote addresses at the Solar Energy Society of India’s 25th Silver Jubilee in Hyderabad and at the inaugural conference of the Turkish section of ASHRAE (an international air conditioning and refrigeration engineering society) in Istanbul, Turkey. He has been a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Associate Professor of Physics at the Universidad Nacional de Salta in Argentina and an Ercotaf Scholar (European Union) at the EPFL in Lausanne Switzerland. He received multiple teaching and student advising awards at the University of Illinois including the campus award for undergraduate teaching excellence, UI College of Engineering awards for classroom innovation, and mechanical engineering Alumni “most effective” teacher awards. Ty retired from the University of Illinois in 2007, having advised 70 masters and doctoral graduate students. He now devotes fulltime to the continued development of sustainable living technologies.
Ty was born in Detroit and lived in Oak Park Illinois, Ballard Missouri, White Plains New York, and Yorktown New York as a youth. He received a BS from the University of Michigan and MS/PhD degrees from the University of Utah in mechanical engineering.
Deb and Ty met a long time ago at a summer camp in Holmes NY where Deb was a lifeguard and Ty was the maintenance guy. They have four children and a granddaughter.