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Wisconsin Energy Institute

Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

The development of new solutions to advance sustainable and affordable energy will be a vital ingredient to America's competitive future. Historically, solutions to pressing global issues have emerged from innovative approaches and fresh, inspired perspectives. Students at UW-Madison are exceptionally suited for solving the sustainability challenge through innovation and entrepreneurship. Among research universities, UW-Madison ranks in the top ten, with an entrepreneurship program ranking in the top 25 in the nation. As a university, it is second only to Harvard in the number of alumni who are CEO's of Fortune 500 companies and ranks first in the number of students who have worked in the Peace Corps. This famous entrepreneurial spirit and vision for social change make our campus ideal for a competition focused on the issue of global sustainability. We invite all UW-Madison students to contribute their own creative solutions and adapt to the related risks through the Wisconsin Energy & Sustainability Challenge.

2014 Winners

The Dvorak Energy Innovation Prize

First Place - $5,000 prize: Coride

The Coride team, led by Fei Ma, a PhD student in Geography, and Nade Sritanyaratana, a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, estimates that young Americans spend more than 2 billion hours per year on road trips. Historically, buses, trains or friends accommodate those trips, but the timing is often inconvenient or the cost is too high. Coride allows users to interact with a mobile-based interface and find ridesharing opportunities along a route, without being limited by starting point location.


Second Place - $1,000 prize: Drsti

Vitamin A deficiency is a health concern throughout the developing world that affects more than 200 million children every year. Team Drsti, made of members Chris Johnson and Mary Pitassi, both masters students in Bacteriology, have described their product as "a sustainable solution to vitamin A deficiency." Project Drsti will develop a probiotic bacterium engineered to make a precursor of vitamin A. The strain will be inexpensive to produce, store and transport, and can be easily added to yogurt or other fermented dairy products.


Third Place - $500 prize: RaPID

RaPID, or the radioisotope powered isolated device, was created by nuclear engineering undergraduates Kazi Ahmed, Garrett Andrews, Xavier Durawa and Jon King. Now ubiquitous chemical batteries have some critical issues, such as: limited capacity, shelf-life and their high weight per unit of energy stored. Their solution? The concept for a nuclear battery. The team believes that in using betavoltaic battery technology to capture the energy emitted by radioactive decay there is potential for immense energy density and longevity. The technology is currently used in pacemakers or space probes, but team RaPID want to expand it's applications.


The Global Stewards Sustainability Prize

First Place - $5,000 prize: Mighty Meal(worm)

The Mighty Meal(worm) team, led by Nelson Institute PhD student Valeria Stull and Epidemiology PhD student Rachel Bergmans, seeks to provide location-based micro-livestock kits in food scarce rural and urban areas. In 2013, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 870 million people struggle with hunger worldwide. By farming mealworms and converting to a protein powder, the Mighty Meal(worm) team believes the insect meals can help fight food insecurity and malnutrition while requiring drastically fewer inputs than traditional livestock.


Second Place - $1,000 prize: Sustainable Fertilizer Recovery from Wastewater

The Sustainable Fertilizer Recovery from Wastewater team is made of Tyler Anderson, a soil science graduate research assistant, Rania Bashar, PhD in biological systems engineering, Cody Calkins, soil science undergraduate, Grant Herrman, biological systems engineering undergraduate, and Logan Voellinger, biological systems engineering. Their concept is to develop and incorporate an electrodialysis cell at existing wastewater treatment facilities to capture and concentrate nitrogen, which can be used in fertilizers.


Third Place - $500 prize: S.M.A.R.T

S.M.A.R.T, or the Smart Multi-tech Automated Real Time home energy management system, was developed by Ashray Gururaja Manur, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student, and Yaidi Cancel Martinez, an urban and regional planning PhD student. Their project combines the ability to control and monitor a home's electrical devices, view data or usage schedules, the ability to integrate with a time-based metering system and access to the SMART Energy Network. The team describes their project as "an intelligent power automation system that provides state-of-the-art monitoring, metering and control of electrical appliances."

The Challenge offers two prizes:

The Global Stewards Sustainability Prize 

With generous funding from the Global Stewards Society (John F. & Mary Cooper; Gary & Ellora Cooper; Christine Cooper; John & Mary K. Noreika; Peter Vogel, Vogel Brothers Building Company; David Beck-Engel, J.H. Findorff & Son; Scott J. Repert, Superior Health Linens), The Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) has established the Global Stewards Sustainability Prize (GSSP) to inspire UW-Madison students from every department to create innovative solutions to the causes and impacts of global environmental change.

Successful projects will improve environmental sustainability (e.g. reduce energy use, improve water quality, protect biodiversity). We invite all forms of innovation, whether technical or social in nature, and we strongly encourage interdisciplinary teams.

Read the Global Stewards Sustainability Prize Guidlines

The Dvorak Energy Prize

Established in 2011 by UW-Madison College of Engineering alumni Stephen Dvorak, his son Eric Dvorak and the Dvorak extended family, the Dvorak Energy Prize offers cash prizes for the best energy-related technology ideas. Participating undergraduate and graduate students must submit a paper documenting the idea and its market potential, along with a prototype or proof of concept statement on the technology. Student ideas are not restricted to any specific category and can relate to energy generation, storage, efficiency or sustainability.

Read the Dvorak Energy Prize Guidlines

2013 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

2013 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

Read about the 2013 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge »