p3

Come See Innovation this Weekend!

Cynthia Nolt-Helms

P3 Teams hold a sign "We Love P3!"

Come see the P3 teams show innovation this weekend!

Spring is here, and there is much to look forward to in Washington, DC! Besides enjoying cherry blossoms and sunnier weather, I look forward to innovation. Odd, I know. But along with the flowers and festivals, innovative green technologies come to the DC area, too. This coming weekend, April 11-12, EPA is sponsoring the 11th Annual EPA People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) student design competition for sustainability.

The EPA P3 Competition is an annual event for teams of graduate and undergraduate students to design solutions for environmental and sustainability challenges. Some 250 students representing 42 teams from colleges and universities across the country will be showcasing their ideas for green technologies and competing for the EPA P3 Award and a Phase II grant of up to $75,000.

These creative students, passionate about promoting a sustainable world, already have competed in the first phase of this national contest. They won a Phase I grant of $15,000 to work on their project during the school year.

Through EPA’s P3 Program, the students demonstrate their ability to work in multidisciplinary teams, navigate competition requirements, and perhaps most importantly, communicate the value of their ideas to a broad range of people. From the judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to the school children who may visit their exhibits, the teams will be explaining how they are taking their innovations from the drawing board to the real world for the benefit of people, to promote prosperity and to protect the planet. That’s P3!

In the interest of fairness, I don’t want to highlight any one of the competing teams. But I do get to brag about the accomplishments of past EPA P3 winners we were able to support through the program. To date, 25 percent of award winning teams have gone on to start companies or form nonprofit organizations. Through the years, faculty have used the program to develop college-level courses in sustainability where none had existed before. Because they won an EPA P3 Award, students have received other awards, funding and recognition—from coveted fellowships to investment capital to international environmental awards.

Now we’re at the beginning of a new cycle of accomplishments for a new class of P3 teams. Spring is a time of promise, and this week brings a new crop of green technologies that we think hold promise. For me and the rest of the EPA P3 team, the expo is the fun part of our jobs!

We hope you will join us. Meet the teams. Learn something about the environment you didn’t know. Explore solutions with the students.

Every year we are amazed and inspired by them. We think you will be too!

11th Annual EPA P3 Competition at the National Sustainable Design Expo:

  • Saturday, April 11, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Sunday, April 12, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Oronoco Bay Park, Alexandria, Virginia

About the Author: Cynthia Nolt-Helms has directed the P3 Program since 2006. A native of Oregon, she felt compelled from an early age to preserve the planet. Seeing public service as an opportunity to have a broad impact, she thought the EPA was a logical fit for her professional and personal goals. In 25+ years there, she has developed national wildlife criteria under the Clean Water Act and has led grant initiatives for clean water.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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When Hotels Save Water, They Save Money, Too

Hotels consume a significant amount of water in the U.S. and around the world, adding to their utility bills and their bottom line. Through technology, innovation and partnership efforts, we’re helping hotels to save water and money, too.

We know that America’s young people are extremely creative and great with technology. That’s why each spring we provide the nation with a glimpse of America’s winning future through our P3 student design competition for sustainability. “P3” stands for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Working in teams, students and their academic advisors devise innovative solutions to meet environmental challenges in ways that benefit people, promote prosperity, and protect the planet.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

Research recap graphic identifier, a microscope with the words "research recap" around it in a circleCompetition can bring out the best in people or the worst in people. Anyone who’s been watching the World Series or following football this season knows what I mean.

But when it comes to competing for sustainability, everybody wins! Read about the student teams selected to compete for this year’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Awards and more in the research highlighted this week.

  • EPA Announces Winning P3 Student Teams
    Since 2004, the P3 Program has provided funding to student teams in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, committing over $10 million to cutting-edge, sustainable projects designed by university students. Read more.
  • EPA Supporting Next Generation of Environmental Scientists Through 105 Fellowship Grants
    EPA announced that 105 graduate students across the nation will receive $8.6 million in Science to Achieve Results fellowship grants to conduct research on topics ranging from climate change and public health to water quality and sustainability that will have cross-cutting impacts in the environmental science field. Read more.
  • Turning Back Time: Repairing Water Infrastructure
    The estimated costs of fixing old, leaky, and cracked pipes through the traditional methods could cost water utilities in excess of $1 trillion dollars over the next 20 years. Innovative, lower cost technologies that could provide alternatives would have enormous impact, but how do utilities know where to turn before they make investments in long-term solutions? Read more.
  • Sustainability and Resilience: Making the Connection
    EPA’s Alan Hecht, Ph.D. offers a new, forward thinking definition of resilience for communities, companies, and others to consider and strive for in the paper Resilience: Navigating toward a Sustainable Future. EPA is looking at research tools and approaches that address and advance community resilience and climate adaptation. Read more.
  • Green Infrastructure Research
    Check out the latest issue of our newsletter EPA Science Matters Newsletter: Green Infrastructure Research and join EPA researchers on October 29 from 2:00-3:00pm ET on twitter to talk about green infrastructure! Questions should be sent to the hashtag #EnvSciChat.

If you have any comments or questions about what I share or about the week’s events, please submit them below in the comments section!

About the Author: About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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EPA’s P3 Student Design Competition: Sowing the Seeds of a Sustainable Future

 

Reposted from EPA Connect, the official blog of EPA’s leadership.

 

“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.”  -PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

 

By Lek Kadeli

KadeliEach spring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides the nation with a glimpse of America’s winning future through our P3 student design competition for sustainability.

“P3” stands for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Working in teams, students and their academic advisors devise innovative solutions to meet environmental challenges in ways that benefit people, promote prosperity, and protect the planet. Through that work, the competition engages the greater academic community and the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers in the principles of sustainability.

The competition is a two-phase process. In Phase I, teams submit design proposals for a chance to receive grants of up to $15,000 to research and test original sustainability projects. In addition to research funds, winning teams earn the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC to publically showcase their designs and prototypes at the National Sustainable Design Expo.

During the Expo, teams also showcase their work to a panel of judges for a chance to enter Phase II of the competition—which includes up to $90,000 in additional grant money to help bring their designs and products to the marketplace. Successful P3 projects ultimately benefit the economy and create jobs in our communities.

President Obama said in this year’s State of the Union address “that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.” This program exemplifies that spirit of innovation.

WeLoveP3Over the past 10 years, EPA has awarded more than 550 grants to university and college student teams across the nation. A number of teams have leveraged their winning ideas into thriving small businesses and nonprofit organizations, sparking job growth as they advance sustainability and public health. For example:

  • An inter-collegiate team made up of students from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and two Chinese universities launched the nonprofit organization One Earth Design (OED) based on their winning project: a solar-powered device that cooks, provides heat, and generates electricity.
  • A team from the University of Massachusetts designed a process for producing a nontoxic flame retardant from cashew oil. The end result provides the benefit of suppressing flames that is as effective as the more toxic synthetic retardants in use today.
  • Students from the University of Arizona designed an irrigation system for small farmers that also serves as a fish farm. Rows of irrigation ditches filled with fish provide a local source of fertilizer that boosts crop yields while yielding additional sources of food and profit.
  • Western Washington University students partnered with local dairy farmers for their project using cow manure as a source of fuel-grade methane for running vehicles.
  • Re-design methods developed by a team of University of Tennessee students have helped transform depression-era housing into buildings that meet both energy efficient, green building standards and strict historical preservation codes.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program. Both the P3 public displays and the National Sustainable Design Expo will be held in conjunction with the USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Washington Convention Center, April 26-27. Now in its third year, the USA Science & Engineering Festival is the largest science festival in the United States.

About the Author: Lek Kadeli is the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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EPA’s P3 Student Design Competition: Sowing the Seeds of a Sustainable Future

By Lek Kadeli

“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” -PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Each spring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides the nation with a glimpse of America’s winning future through our P3 student design competition for sustainability.

“P3” stands for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Working in teams, students and their academic advisors devise innovative solutions to meet environmental challenges in ways that benefit people, promote prosperity, and protect the planet. Through that work, the competition engages the greater academic community and the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers in the principles of sustainability.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

My Confidence in Future Young Scientists

Crossposted from “It’s All Starts with  Science”

By Thabit Pulak

I watched as the young students of Magnet Science and Technology Elementary poured the sand and rocks into their soda bottles. The kids were learning how sand water filters work, and making their own mini versions of the filter. The interest and pride the kids took in making their filters gave me confidence that the next generation of Americans would apply the same degree of care and attention to important environmental issues, such as water quality.

The students were taking part in “enrichment clusters,” sessions in which they learn about one important public issue in depth. I was invited by 2nd-grade teacher Ms. Claborn to visit her cluster on water purification and to present a real-life example of a water filter.

I had recently worked to develop an affordable filter that removed not only bacteria and contaminants from water, but also arsenic, a poisonous substance that affects nearly 150 million people across the world today. I had the opportunity to present my water filter at the 2012 Intel International Science Fair, where I won 3rd place and EPA’s Patrick J. Hurd Sustainability Award. The Hurd Award included an invitation to present my project at the annual National Sustainable Design Expo, which showcases EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program.

I presented the filter to the class and answered questions, learning just as much from them as they did from me. I was invited to stay for the remainder of the cluster, where the students were putting final touches on their own water filters. Ms. Claborn gave each of the students some muddy water to run through the filters. It was exciting for me to see the children’s smiles as they looked at the clean water slowly trickling out of the open edge of the soda bottle after traveling through the sand and rocks. The filters were based on a water filtration activity that EPA designed specifically for students.

Afterwards, I was invited to attend the upcoming STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) exhibit that the school was hosting. The students’ mini filters would be on display, and I was invited to display my filter alongside theirs. As the stream of curious parents and students came in, I gladly talked about both what the students did and my own filter, and what this means for the future of environmental sustainability issues like water.

This was my first opportunity to present my work outside of my school and science fairs. I felt very honored and happy to be able to give something back to the community. I hope to find ways to keep doing so!

About the Author: Guest blogger Thabit Pulak of Richardson, Texas was the winner of the Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2012. As part of this award, he was invited to attend and exhibit at the National Sustainable Design Expo, home of the P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability in Washington, DC. He was also the recipient of the 2013 Davidson Fellows Award.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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My Confidence in Future Young Scientists

By Thabit Pulak

EPA guest blogger Thabit and friends

The students were taking part in “enrichment clusters,” sessions in which they learn about one important public issue in depth. I was invited by 2nd-grade teacher Ms. Claborn to visit her cluster on water purification and to present a real-life example of a water filter.

I had recently worked to develop an affordable filter that removed not only bacteria and contaminants from water, but also arsenic, a poisonous substance that affects nearly 150 million people across the world today. I had the opportunity to present my water filter at the 2012 Intel International Science Fair, where I won 3rd place and EPA’s Patrick J. Hurd Sustainability Award. The Hurd Award included an invitation to present my project at the annual National Sustainable Design Expo, which showcases EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program.

STEM in the classroomI presented the filter to the class and answered questions, learning just as much from them as they did from me.  I was invited to stay for the remainder of the cluster, where the students were putting final touches on their own water filters. Ms. Claborn gave each of the students some muddy water to run through the filters. It was exciting for me to see the children’s smiles as they looked at the clean water slowly trickling out of the open edge of the soda bottle after traveling through the sand and rocks. The filters were based on a water filtration activity that EPA designed specifically for students.

Afterwards, I was invited to attend the upcoming STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) exhibit that the school was hosting. The students’ mini filters would be on display, and I was invited to display my filter alongside theirs. As the stream of curious parents and students came in, I gladly talked about both what the students did and my own filter, and what this means for the future of environmental sustainability issues like water.

This was my first opportunity to present my work outside of my school and science fairs. I felt very honored and happy to be able to give something back to the community. I hope to find ways to keep doing so!

 

About the Author: Guest blogger Thabit Pulak of Richardson, Texas was the winner of the Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2012. As part of this award, he was invited to attend and exhibit at the National Sustainable Design Expo, home of the P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability in Washington, DC. He was also the recipient of the 2013 Davidson Fellows Award

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Advice from Student Entrepreneurs: “Embrace your Chutzpah”

Reposted from The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy blog.

Engineers checking a reactor.

John Bissell (left) and Ryan Smith (right) inspect a pilot reactor. Bissell, Smith, and Casey McGrath (not pictured) co-founded the biotechnology company Micromidas soon after graduating from the University of California, Davis.

By Douglas Herrin

When they founded their biotechnology company, Micromidas, Ryan Smith was 30, Casey McGrath was 24, and John Bissell was 23—and all were recently graduated students at University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Together, they have developed innovative processes for converting sewage into biodegradable plastics—which won them the 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3)competition for sustainability—and cellulosic wastes into para-xylene.

I spoke with John Bissell to find out how he turned his lab research into a growing company. To date, Micromidas has built a pilot plant and raised more than $20 million in venture capital.

What was your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?

We were encouraged by UC Davis Professor Frank Loge to submit an interesting research project for evaluation. We started out as a team of engineers (I am a chemical engineer), and expanded the team to include a microbiologist. We ended up at the EPA P3 event in Washington, DC, as college seniors. At the time, we were converting sewer water into biodegradable plastics through microbial fermentation. After we won the competition, we sat at the Metro Center subway stop thinking the same thing: “Are we going to do more?”

After returning home to UC Davis, Professor Andrew Hargadon welcomed us to an entrepreneurship boot camp called the Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy. Its aim was to help scientists and engineers become entrepreneurs. We were some of the only undergraduates at the camp. We wanted to know what it looks like to start a company. By the end of 2008, we had formed Micromidas and an angel investor had provided $200,000 in seed funding.

Read more…

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Recognizing Students for Innovative Environmental Solutions

By Bob  Perciasepe

How would you change the world with $90,000? That’s what we asked students from colleges and universities across the country as part of an annual competition to come up with innovative solutions to some of today’s toughest public health and environmental challenges. And the responses we received were remarkable.

EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition was held this past spring at the 9th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo. Three hundred student innovators from 45 teams convened on the National Mall in Washington, DC to showcase sustainable projects to protect people’s health and the environment, encourage economic growth, and use natural resources more efficiently.

Each award winning team will receive a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design and potentially bring it to the marketplace. About a quarter of P3 award winners have started new companies or nonprofit organizations, and many have used their P3 grant funds to attract investment capital, additional grants and competitive awards.

A panel of expert judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science helped select the winners following two days of judging. It is my honor to announce this year’s winners:

  • Loyola University of Chicago for developing a greener way, through a wetland and a distillation process, to treat and reuse byproducts of biodiesel.
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell for creating nontoxic, biodegradable surfactants from fruit peels and algae, and seeing how they are effective.
  • Radford University for designing a naturally-occurring coating that would allow sand to absorb water pollutants, such as arsenic and cadmium.
  • San Jose State University for using saw dust instead of plastic to create inexpensive building materials, customized for local climates, with 3D printer technology.
  • Georgia Southern University for further innovating the Low Temperature Combustion diesel engine, to operate on locally sourced n-buthanol and cottonseed oil; thus designing a diesel engine that could create even lower NOx and soot emissions.
  • Cornell University for designing a simple, low-cost, lower-maintenance water filtration device for Honduras communities, using a stacked-rapid sand filter.
  • Cornell University for evaluating and improving cookstove fuel resources in Kenyan communities, by burning solid fuel without oxygen, which can create biochar for soil enrichment.

The students that participated in this competition – and young people across the country – continue to give me confidence that our next generation of American scientists and engineers are up to the task of solving the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

About the author: Bob Perciasepe is acting administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA Recognizes High School Students for Environmental Innovation

PatrickHHurdAward2013Jacquel Caron Rivers and Arne Joi Saguni Nipales win the Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award, and will showcase their winning project at the National Sustainable Design Expo in 2014.

Today, EPA recognized the winners of this year’s EPA Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona. Named in honor of EPA employee Patrick H. Hurd who helped establish the award, it recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability and stewardship.

Jacquel Caron Rivers and Arne Joi Saguni Nipales, both seniors at Baboquivari High School, Sells, Arizona were named the recipients of the award. Their project, “Total Solar Strategy for the Tohono O’Odham Nation,” uses solar oven technology for storing energy and heating the traditional adobe constructed homes used on the reservation. Rivers and Nipales were picked out of 1,611 student scientists and engineers competing in the fair this week.

“The student finalists of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair are finding innovative approaches to the world’s complex problems,” said Lek Kadeli, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “EPA is proud to recognize a project that is addressing environmental challenges in a more sustainable way.”

The EPA Patrick H. Hurd award funds the winning students (and a chaperone) to participate in and display their project at EPA’s 2014 National Sustainable Design Expo. The Expo features EPA’s P3: People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition for Sustainability. Held each spring in Washington, DC, the National Sustainable Design Expo brings together P3 students, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and businesses that are working to create a sustainable future.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is the world’s largest pre-college science competition, hosting more than 1,500 high school students from over 70 countries, regions, and territories. Students advance to it from several levels of local and school-sponsored, regional, and state fairs showcasing their independent research. The Society for Science & the Public, a non-profit organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education, founded and runs the fair.

 

Forget about the blue ribbon and $20 gift certificate for the homemade volcano. These kids were bringing some serious science: biochemistry, electrical and mechanical engineering, environmental management, nuclear and particle physics, cellular and molecular biology, and medicine and health sciences—just to name a few.

–Patrick Hurd wrote in his 2009 blog entry about attending the ISEF,  Science is Cool

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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