Students Use Their Tech Know How To Protect The Environment. Robots And Drones Were Among The Winning Projects In An Institute Of Electrical And Electronics Engineers Contest.

Communities worldwide are grappling with the pressing issue of climate change. In an effort to tackle this global challenge through innovative technology, EPICS in IEEE, in collaboration with the United Engineering Foundation, launched the Environmental Competition last year. Climate change, as stated by the Natural Resources Defense Council, exacerbates extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, as well as long-lasting droughts and unprecedented heatwaves in regions previously known for moderate climates. The EPICS competition called upon students and faculty from universities and colleges across the United States to utilize their engineering and technical expertise to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change in their respective communities. Out of the 20 proposals submitted by eight institutions, 10 exceptional projects were selected and granted funding. Stephanie Gillespie, the current chair of EPICS in IEEE and associate dean of the engineering college at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, highlights that the competition empowers students to transform their ideas and passions into fully deployed solutions. It allows them to take their prototypes and turn them into tangible contributions. The student teams partnered with nonprofit organizations to gain practical experience in making a real difference through technological advancements. Some teams integrated their projects into their engineering curriculum or senior design projects, while others utilized their IEEE student branch to implement their initiatives. Mitzu Walkifucazaki, a computer science junior at Arizona State University and a member of the team working on the Project Hydration Station, one of the winning projects, shares how the experience broadened their engineering horizons. Working with a diverse group of engineers from various disciplines provided a well-rounded educational journey, offering invaluable insights and skills. According to a survey conducted among the students, the EPICS in IEEE project proved to be a valuable learning experience, particularly in terms of teamwork and practical application of classroom knowledge. Over 93 percent of the respondents acknowledged that their participation in the competition contributed significantly to the development of their teamwork skills. The projects, such as the litter-collecting robot, nitrogen-sensing drones, and others, not only fostered hands-on learning but also encouraged community engagement, enabling the students to cultivate essential professional aptitudes. Let's now take a closer look at four of the ten remarkable projects that emerged from the competition, showcasing the ingenuity and commitment of these aspiring engineers in combating climate change.

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