Students receive funding for research through NMSU environmental design contest

Design contest participants

Two students discuss their projects during the 23rd Annual International Environmental Design Contest, held at NMSU in April. Three student designs from this competition will develop further at NMSU this summer as funded research. (Courtesy photo)

Writer: Yadira Corral

The Institute for Energy and the Environment at New Mexico State University has announced a new program to extend three students’ participation in the IEE/WERC 23rd Annual International Environmental Design Contest, which was held at NMSU in April.

IEE/WERC is a consortium for environmental education and technology development within the NMSU Department of Chemical Engineering.

The three students will have the opportunity to continue to develop the design of their systems, which were demonstrated during the contest. Their work will examine solar desalination issues and will take place at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo and at the IEE facilities at the NMSU Las Cruces campus.

Their work will begin Monday, June 24.

The opportunity was offered to Yakov Suvorov and Christopher Pittner, both environmental engineering students at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, and NMSU chemical engineering student Rachel Woods.

The student interns will study concentrate waste management, water energy nexus and sustainable distillation systems research.

“I would like to keep working on the solar cell project that we presented in April for WERC’s International Environmental Design Contest,” Suvorov said. “We plan to experiment with nitrate removal from water and increase the desalination yield to provide enough water for a single family.”

WERC’s Environmental Design Contest is an event that brings together industry, government and academia in the search for improved environmental solutions for real-world problems. The contest draws hundreds of college students from throughout the United States and around the world.

“The design contest is one of the most innovative ways to bring real world problems and challenges to students,” said IEE and WERC Director Abbas Ghassemi. “It offers an excellent opportunity for the future work force to develop practical solutions and interact with leading experts from around the globe.”

Expectations may vary among the students, but they agree in their desire to acquire new knowledge.

“I expect to learn a lot, to make connections in the field,” Pittner said. “I want to do some awesome research, and maybe even discover something important. This is a unique opportunity for students to get real hands-on experience.”

“I hope to improve upon my knowledge that I have been getting in the classroom through application,” Woods said.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment, a unit within the New Mexico State University Department of Chemical Engineering, is a multidisciplinary, energy and water resource serving the Southwest and beyond. Through technology, dynamic leadership, industrial/academic expertise and human resource development, the institute provides and stimulates comprehensive solutions to fundamental, worldwide challenges.


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