Cal Poly Environmental Engineering Team Wins Innovation Award

May 04, 2017

A team of seven Cal Poly environmental engineering students won the Intel Environmental Innovation Award and $2,500 at the International Environmental Design Contest for their use of ion-exchange resins to filter metals out of storm water.

The competition, held April 5-7 in Las Cruces, N.M., was hosted by New Mexico State University and WERC, a consortium for environmental education and technology development.

“What helped us win was the practicality and usefulness of our design,” said junior Andrew Ledezma, team lead. “The client — the U.S. Navy — can simply attach our downspout extension to existing downspouts to prevent copper from exiting the base. “There being no modifications to the existing building; the safety and ease of implementation and maintenance; and cost effectiveness won us the prize.”

Other team members included seniors Hayley Aarsvold, Joelle Arakaki, Enrique Molina, and Gavi Orman; and freshmen Emely Coreas and Joey Velasquez.

Two other Cal Poly teams tackled challenges involving passive solar distillation of acid rock drainage waters and construction of remotely operated weather stations that measure renewable energy potential. Faculty advisor for the teams was Environmental Engineering Professor Tracy Thatcher. Seniors Andrew Kaneda and Nicholas Hardy served as student advisors.

A significant portion of the competition teams’ expenses were funded by the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) as a result of Hardy’s two summer internships there. The connections made by Hardy helped lead the way to a partnership between NAVFAC and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department that is providing environmental engineering students with ongoing opportunities to work on U.S. Navy engineering projects with professional engineers.

WERC’s International Environmental Design Contest is an annual event that brings industry, government and academia together in search of improved solutions to environmental challenges.

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Photo: Back row, from left: Nicholas Hardy, Hayley Aarsvold, Enrique Molina, Joey Velasquez and Andrew Kaneda; front row, Gavi Orman, Andrew Ledezma, Emely Coreas and Joelle Arakaki. 


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