ASCE recognized the innovative humanitarian work of a Case Western Reserve University student team with the 2017 ASCE Sustainable Development Award at the EPA’s P3 National Sustainable Design Expo.
The P3 “People, Prosperity, and the Planet” program features a college competition in two parts. Selected student teams are given $15,000 grants during the school year to develop proposals to solutions for a sustainable future. They then bring their designs to the design expo in Washington, DC, to compete for the P3 award and a grant of $90,000.
The ASCE Sustainable Development Award, sponsored by the Society’s Committee on Sustainability, honors a student team with $1,000 for a project that solves a pressing need in a developing country, based on the project’s simplicity of design, its use of local raw materials, and its widespread effect on quality of life in that region.
Case Western won the Society award for devising an electrical incinerator for hazardous medical waste disposal, designed specifically for use in Uganda. The device collects syringes and segregates the steel needles for disposal in a separate, electrically powered incinerator.
The project has also strengthened the collaboration between engineering and social science students at Case Western and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The panel of ASCE judges included Venisri Nagulapati, P.E., M.ASCE, Satish Soni, P.E., M.ASCE, and Richard Cramond, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE.
Cramond was particularly impressed by the prototype designed by the Case Western team.
“They had made a mockup of their system, which in essence let you clip off needles without handling them, and transfer them into an induction heater,” Cramond said. “It’s a unique solution for destroying the contaminated needles, which is a problem all over the world.
“For the students, it gives them the opportunity to go solve real problems. A lot of it is theoretical, but it is all aimed at a real problem.”
Find more about the P3 program at its official EPA site.