Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Graduate student teams win $10,000 sustainability awards from Dow

The Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute announces the winners of the 2010 Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge, through which graduate students with the most innovative ideas for addressing the issue of sustainability receive $10,000 from The Dow Chemical Co.

For more information and to view the winning entries, go to the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute Web site.

Individual students and student groups entered the Dow Challenge, which required entries to be interdisciplinary and to clearly articulate a pioneering concept, such as a new process, service, policy, technology or product.

A U-M committee comprising broad-based expertise from multiple disciplines selected the winners based on predefined criteria. Winners are using the award money to help move their proposed projects forward.

The three award-winning ideas and the student teams that submitted them are:

• “Hippo Water International (HWI): A Simple Design Can Change the World” — A new business model to effectively distribute water rollers, a proven collection and transport technology to alleviate problems associated with lack of access to water in the developing world. Team members are Colm Fay, Stephen M. Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources & Environment (Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise); Cynthia Koenig, Ross School and SNRE (Erb Institute); and Christopher Mueller, Ross School and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

• “BioLumination: Brightening the Future with the Waste of Today” — A plan to introduce a device called the Biolight for combusting waste to produce light, thus helping to improve the quality of life for rural villages in the developing world while minimizing environmental impacts. Team members are Robert Levine, chemical engineering; and Paul Davis, Ross School and SNRE (Erb Institute).

• “Nalu Solar Software” — An idea for a software company that would encourage greater adoption of solar photovoltaic technology by lowering the cost of installed solar PV systems. Team members are Jennifer McLaughlin, Ross School and SNRE (Erb Institute); and Prashanth Prasad and Imogen Taylor, both of the Ross School.

The Graham Institute administers the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge on behalf of U-M — one of a select group of universities invited to participate in this worldwide competition.

“We are honored to be taking part in this unique program,” says Don Scavia, director of the Graham Institute and special counsel to the U-M president on sustainability, “and we’re very proud to represent an educational institution that spurs such innovative thinking toward sustainability solutions.”

The Graham Institute promotes sustainability-focused research, education and outreach at the university by fostering interdisciplinary collaboration among units involved in sustainability. Partners include the 19 degree-granting schools and colleges, as well as administrative units throughout the extensive U-M community.

The Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge recognizes and rewards students for their innovation and research of sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental problems. As part of the program, the student winners will attend an annual recognition event to celebrate their energy, commitment and contribution to sustainable innovation.