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Five faculty members and 25 students will compete in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability in Washington, D.C. May 9-10. Two teams from Lafayette will compete against 39 other teams representing 21 colleges and universities nationwide, including Carnegie Mellon, Duke, MIT, Stanford, Texas A&M, and Tufts. They are completing their designs as part of an elective A.B. engineering course open to all majors.

Steven Mylon, assistant professor of chemistry, Samuel Morton, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Arthur Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, are leading a team of nine students in a project entitled “The Characterization and Implementation of an Enhanced Activated Alumina for the Removal of Dissolved Arsenic at the Point of Entry.” The team is developing a material they believe is a viable option for removing arsenic from ground waters. Millions of people worldwide suffer from contaminated drinking water.

Student researchers are members of Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and include Marquis Scholar Andrew Baker ’06(Seattle, Wash.), who is pursuing a B.S. civil engineering and an A.B. with majors in Spanish and international studies; Mark Battaglia ’06 (Wallingford, Pa.), a civil engineering major; Marquis Scholar Kate Buettner ’06 (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), a chemistry major; Amanda Eggleston ’06 (Lancaster, Pa.), an A.B. engineering major; Veronica Escobar ’08 (La Paz, Bolivia), a civil engineering major; Samira Fowler ’07 (Dingmans Ferry, Pa.), a civil engineering major; Meghan Goodwin ’06 (Dresher, Pa.), a double major in A.B. engineering and economics & business; Christine Moore ’08 (Fredericksburg, Va.), a civil engineering major; and Trevor Ortolano ’07 (East Nassau, N.Y.), a civil engineering major.

The students are responsible for nearly all aspects of the competition and team organization. They design the research program, protocols, cost-benefit analysis, and final report. Mylon notes that students benefit from projects such as this because they can immediately see how their research can have far-reaching effects in improving the lives of people around the world.

“The great thing about a project like this one is that the students own it,” he says. “As faculty we provide the lab space, experience, guidance, and other help along the way, but for the most part these students own the work they are doing. Additionally, they will take part in a national competition where they are assessed by people from outside of Lafayette and compared to student groups from around the nation. The rewards for our students (both educational and personal) are many. This is a collaboration with many faculty and peers that has set deliverable and external assessment. It is almost a given that students who become part of this become motivated or inspired by these kinds of opportunities and challenges.”

The second team, comprised of sixteen students, is competing with the project “Development of Sustainable Water Systems in Yoro, Honduras” under the guidance of Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and David Brandes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. They are developing a sustainable water supply and sanitation system for the remote valley village of La Fortuna, located in the Yoro district of central Honduras. The team’s solutions will incorporate available mountain springs to avoid pumps, minimize treatment and protect the upgradient watershed.

Participants are members of Lafayette’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). They are Arno Alarcan ’06 (Delmar, N.Y.), a mechanical engineering major; Vanessa Araujo- Lopera ’08 (Woodhaven, N.Y.), an international commerce major; Marquis Scholar Carolyn Fisher ’06 (Mahopac, N.Y.), a mechanical engineering major; Ben Flath ’07 (Scotch Plains, N.J.), a civil engineering major; Marquis Scholar Margaret Garcia ’07(Stamford, Conn.), who is pursuing a B.S. civil engineering and A.B. with a major in international studies; Tiffany Geklinsky ’07 (Pen Argyl, Pa.), an A.B. engineering major; Lori Gonzalez ’09 (Bronx, N.Y.); Will Hockett ’06 (Portland, Ore.), a double major in A.B. engineering and government & law; Adam Kaufer ’06 (Kingston, Pa.), a double major in A.B. engineering and economics & business; Michael Lemken ’09 (Emerson, N.J.); Marquis Scholar Briana Niblick ’06(Hatboro, Pa.), who is pursuing a B.S. civil engineering and A.B. with a major in German; Daniela Ochoa ’08 (Davie, Fla.), an international affairs major; Debra Perrone ’08 (Fairlawn, N.J.), a civil engineering major; Greg Roscoe ’06 (Bolton, Conn.), an A.B. engineering major; Marco Tjioe ’09 (North Sumatera, Indonesia); and Matt Verbyla ’06 (Unionville, Conn.), a civil engineering major. Several other students from Lafayette and a college in Nicaragua are working with the team.

The project builds on work EWB did in the village of Lagunitas, Honduras, where they developed solutions to water supply problems. While in La Fortuna, the team had to overcome the challenges of steep, erodable terrain with limited vehicular access, a scattered settlement pattern within the community, a high quality stream and riparian habitat, water rights issues, and the need for communal-based governance and financing. About half of the participating students visited La Fortuna in January.

Like Mylon, Jones says the P3 project has numerous benefits. Students are learning first-hand about problems in the developing world and to solve those problems, they must understand the cultural and social contexts of the communities they serve. They also are gaining a better understanding of sustainability and how it can be applied to this project and their own lives. The faculty mentors also reap rewards working closely with the student team, she says.

“We learn so much from the students in an experience like this. It’s not the standard college course in terms of how you prepare for class and what the students produce. Because of that, it is a more expensive course to offer, but it provides significant learning outcomes for those involved that they cannot get from a traditional course. The P3 funding from EPA allowed us to elevate these benefits for more students this year. I hope that we can find similar levels of support for the future.”

Along with its 40 partners from industry, nongovernmental organizations and other government agencies, EPA offers this student design competition to encourage the integration of sustainability into higher education and training. Innovative advances in science and engineering

are the foundation of sustainability, important elements of EPA’s research, and a vital part of the overall EPA mission.

One of EPA’s highest priorities is ensuring that there is an adequate and well-trained scientific and technical workforce that can address the complex environmental and sustainability issues of tomorrow. In response to this need, EPA supports several programs in addition to P3 that foster development of current and future environmental professionals through education and sustainability efforts.

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