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Sustainability Project Wins National Environmental Design Contest

May 10, 2012

       Sustainability Project
  Prize-Winning Project: Earning the Judge's Choice Award at this year's IEE/WERC Environmental Design Contest was the team of (front row, from left) Hannah Chapin-Eppert and Morgan Lopez. In the back row (from left) are Robert Cartwright and Keith Kelley II. Patsy Brackin (front, right), professor of mechanical engineering, was the project's faculty mentor.

A team of four environmentally conscious senior mechanical engineering students received the Judge's Choice Award for best design paper in the 22nd IEE/WERC Environmental Design Contest this spring at New Mexico State University. Team member Hannah Chapin-Eppert earned the Terry McManus Memorial Award for demonstrating a personal drive for environmental excellence.

The students took on the challenge of designing a system that utilizes running industrial wastewater to create between 10 and 18 kilowatts through hydroelectric power. Use of a large water storage tank maximizes ideal head pressures and a storm water interceptor tank prevents solid waste particles from interfering with power generation. The system has a payback period of 4.6 years. A design model allowed the team to showcase concepts involving the turbine wheel and generator.

A scale model showcased the viability of the power generation system, and a 22-page report provided a complete economic and health analysis, along with a project audit and review by professional sustainability engineers.

Terry Mcnanus      
Sustainable Engineer: Senior mechanical engineering student Hannah Chapin-Eppert (right) earned the Terry McManus Memorial Award for demonstrating a personal drive for environmental excellence. Patsy Brackin (front, right), professor of mechanical engineering, nominated Chapin-Eppert for the honor  

"We were clearly focused on developing a sustainable project," stated team member Morgan Lopez. "There wasn't a single question posed by the judges that we hadn't thoroughly considered. We were well prepared."

Chapin-Eppert is ready for a career in sustainable engineering after tailoring her course electives in areas of sustainable energy systems, renewable energy, and wind turbines. She urged Rose-Hulman to implement high-efficiency front-load washers for its residence halls, and proposed using geothermal energy to improve the quality of life in the Solomon Islands.

"Hannah sees the possibilities for conserving energy and producing sustainable, clean energy. She wants to be a part of this development," said Patsy Brackin, Ph.D., co-instructor for the senior mechanical engineering design sequence.

Chapin-Eppert stated: "Leaving behind a better place make sense. I have always been fascinated about renewable energy production."

Other members of the award-winning team were Robert Cartwright and Keith Kelley II.