An elegant solution to both arsenic contamination in Bangladesh and arsenic demand in Silicon Valley.…
First place in the IEEE 2012 Presidents’ Change the World Contest goes to a project from the University of Oxford, called “Clean Water: Transforming a Natural Disaster into a Natural Resource.” Team members Stephen Honan, Sarah Yazouri, and Kevin Baum identified a fern that can be easily grown in Bangladesh and developed a low cost filtration system that uses the fern to rapidly purify drinking water. In addition, the team developed an environmentally friendly and cost-effective process to recycle the waste product from the filters to reclaim the arsenic, which is used in the production of semiconductors and solar panels. Together, the ferns and the recycling of the captured waste products provide an elegant solution to both the arsenic contamination in Bangladesh and the arsenic demand in Silicon Valley. Team member Stephen Honan (right, with Yazouri, center, and Baum, left) accepted the First Place honorarium during the IEEE Honors Ceremony on June 30th, in Boston.
The IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Contest was created in 2009, by 2009 IEEE President John Vig, Past President Lewis Terman, and President-Elect Pedro Ray. The competition recognizes student teams who develop unique solutions to real-world problems using engineering, science, computing, and leadership skills to benefit their community and/or the world at large. The sitting President, Past President, and President-Elect make the final award selections. First, Second, and Third Place prizes carry honoraria of $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500 respectively.
The 2012 Second Place Project, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, is “Wound-Pump: Development of a Simplified Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Device.” This project addresses the need for the development of a simplified wound pump for use where negative pressure wound therapy is not readily available due to lack of electricity, high costs, and other constraints. The use of this simplified wound pump could result in decreasing rate of infections in austere environments and decreasing the loss of limbs due to amputations.
The 2012 Third Place Project, from the University of Washington, Seattle, is “FoneAstra: Leveraging Commodity Mobile Phones and Sensors to Save the Lives of Children in Resource-Poor Developing Countries.” The project focuses on developing a platform that enables sensors to be connected to commodity mobile phones to address two critical healthcare issues faced by impoverished communities: access to potent vaccines and the safe pasteurization of breast milk for vulnerable infants.
My congratulations to all three winning teams.