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Wisconsin Energy Institute

$14,000 Awarded for Creative Student Solutions in Energy and Sustainability

See the World, Feed the World: Tech-Savvy Ridesharing, Micro-Livestock Farming Take Top Honors at Energy and Sustainability Challenge

WESC Winners 2014

University of Wisconsin–Madison students competed Tuesday, April 22, for $14,000 in prize money by creating innovative solutions to the world’s energy and sustainability challenges. The winners, Coride, a mobile-based ridesharing application, and Mighty Meal(worm), an insect farming program to improve food security, each went home with top honors and $5,000 in prize money.

Madison, WI - The Wisconsin Energy Institute and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison hosted eight teams of students in the 2014 Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge.

The Coride team (pictured top), 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.

The Mighty Meal(worm) team (pictured bottom), 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.

"All of the student teams did an excellent job. The judges were thoroughly impressed with the quality of the submissions this year,” said Scott Williams, research and education coordinator at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. “What seemed to set the winners apart was that they thought more holistically about how they could implement their ideas in a way that could make a large impact."

About the Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge: WESC is a student competition aimed at advancing creative ideas in energy and environmental sustainability. The challenge combines the Dvorak Energy Innovation Prize and Global Stewards Sustainability Prize. This year’s competition was held at the April 22nd Nelson Earth Day Conference and supported by the Dvorak Family, the Global Stewards Society, BP, Madison Gas and Electric, and the David Marca Memorial Fund for Student Energy Projects. More info: energy.wisc.edu/wienergychallenge

Contact: Scott Williams, Wisconsin Energy Institute spwilliams@wisc.edu, (608) 890-2199