Student news - Engineering students win UW-Madison climate challenge competition
Engineering students participated in all four of the prize-winning teams at an annual University of Wisconsin-Madison student competition for innovative ideas to counteract climate change.
The 2010 Climate Leadership Challenge top prize and $50,000 went to a device that would help provide electricity efficiently and at low cost in rural areas of developing countries. Called the microformer, the device is the brainchild of electrical engineering graduate students Jonathan Lee, Dan Ludois and Patricio Mendoza. Besides the cash prize, the team members will receive a promotional trip worth $5,000 and an option for a free one-year lease in the University Research Park’s new Metro Innovation Center on Madison’s east side.
Judges selected the microformer as the most action-ready idea of the 22 submitted by UW-Madison students. “We really want to see implementation of the best ideas offered,” says Tracey Holloway, director of the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at UW-Madison, which staged the contest for the second year in a row. “The purpose of this competition is to make an impact on climate change.”
The runner-up for the most action-ready prize was a proposal to promote the use of oil from Jatropha curcas plants to fuel special cooking stoves in places like Haiti. Mechanical engineering undergraduate student Eyleen Chou, electrical engineering undergraduate student Jason Lohr and biomedical engineering undergraduate student Tyler Lark won $10,000 for their scheme to reduce deforestation by lowering demand for wood charcoal as a cooking fuel.
CORE Concept, a technology that would cut emissions from internal combustion engines by using a greater variety of fuels, won mechanical engineering graduate students Sage Kokjohn, Derek Splitter, and Reed Hanson $15,000 as the most innovative technical solution.
Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student Matt Luedke was part of the team that created SnowShoe, a smart phone application that would enable shoppers to check the carbon footprint of any item in a grocery store by scanning its bar code. SnowShoe won $15,000 as the most innovative non-technical solution.
Six finalists exhibited at the Nelson Institute’s Earth Day Conference, and the Climate Leadership Challenge winners were announced April 21. With prizes totaling more than $100,000 in value, this year’s Climate Leadership Challenge was believed to be the most lucrative college or university competition of its kind in the country, according to Holloway. The contest was open to all UW-Madison students.
A local group called the Global Stewards Society is funding the competition for the second year in a row. The group includes John F. and Mary Cooper; Gary and Ellora Cooper; Christine Cooper; John and Mary K. Noreika; Peter Vogel of Vogel Brothers Building Company; David Beck-Engel of J.H. Findorff & Son; and Scott J. Reppert of Superior Health Linens.