Students Place First in Environmental Design Contest
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
April 23, 2008
Members of Retrolutions present their poster and bench scale technologies to the judges. Pictured from left to right behind bench are Phillip Trzcinski, Jeff Senders, Greg Sereni and Amy Conaty. Pictured to the right of the judges is Cara Hayward.
A team of UNH business and engineering students won first place in their task
at the 2008 Environmental Design Contest held April 6-9, at New Mexico State
University in Las Cruces, N.M.
This year's team, Retrolutions, retrofitted an existing commercial building
to reduce its environmental footprint. The 14-member team was so impressive
that they have been invited to present their project at the EPA Science Forum
in Washington, DC, May 20–22.
The students developed the project EARTH (Education, Awareness, Reduction,
Technology, and Holistic Approach), an integrated plan to retrofit a building
in Phoenix. They conducted energy and water audits, and suggested reducing
the demand of energy and water through education and awareness of the building’s
occupants as well as by employing existing technologies.
They designed three technologies -- a grey water recycling system, a solar
concentrating energy production system, and a compressed air enhanced evaporative
cooling system -- that could be implemented to minimize the buildings energy
and water demands.
The competition is an important bridge from a student’s academic career
to a real-world career, according to Jenna Jambeck, research assistant professor
of civil and environmental engineering and a faculty advisor to the team.
“This is the first time they organize as an interdisciplinary group,
have real deadlines to meet, prepare professional deliverables such as reports,
PowerPoint presentations, poster presentations and bench-scale demonstrations,
and are judged by outsiders. They put all their knowledge of their time at
UNH into practice. This helps them to gain confidence, grow and evolve beyond
the classroom while still here at UNH,” Jambeck said.
Faculty advisor Jeffrey Sohl, who directs the UNH Center for Venture Research,
agreed. As a former engineer who now is a professor in the Whittemore School
of Business and Economics, he believes it is critical for engineers to be exposed
to the business side of engineering and for business students to understand
“The competition gives the business students hands-on experience with
developing a technology in the lab and understanding the commercialization
process. As a faculty member it is a great feeling to hear the business students
talk knowledgeably about the technology and likewise to hear engineers discuss
bottom-line implications,” Sohl said.
Business administration student and Retrolutions team member Cara Hayward
found the competition a valuable experience.
“This competition allowed me to actually apply what I am learning in
the classroom. I was able to assist in all stages of technology development
as well as plan the commercialization of the technology. This was an invaluable
experience because I now feel as though I can make that transfer from the classroom
to the real world in any situation,” she said.
In addition to the first-place win, Scott Cloutier of Rochester won the Terry
McManus Memorial Student Award. The other members of the UNH team were Justin
Butterfield of Pittsfield; Amy Conaty of Dighton, Mass.; Tyler Crowe of Littleton;
Owen Friend-Gray of Nottingham; Patrick Hartnett of Hampstead;, Cara Hayward
of Acton, Mass.; John Heaney of East Kingston; Zachary Magdol of West Hartford,
Conn.; Jesse Medeiros of Rochester; Hillary Schmidle of East Greenwich, Rhode
Island; Jeff Senders of Camden, Maine; Greg Sereni of Sanbornton; and Philip
Trzcinski of Londonderry.
The competition, sponsored by WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education
and Technology Development, challenges student teams to develop solutions for
real-world environmental problems that have been submitted by various companies
and government institutions. Thirty-three teams from 23 universities including
190 participants from around the United States, Bogazici University in Turkey,
the Universities of Manitoba, and Waterloo in Canada, and a team from Universidad
de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico, competed.
The WERC consortium is comprised of New Mexico State University (its administrative
location), the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the University
of New Mexico, Diné College, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.