by Sydney Redigan
Engineering Public Affairs Editor
Two teams of Wayne State University students claimed second and third place in the 2008-2009 Hydrogen Education Foundation’s Hydrogen Student Design Contest. This year’s contest called upon teams of university students from around the world to design a green student center powered by hydrogen for the State University of New York – Farmingdale Campus, using a theoretical budget of $28 million dollars.
The students were challenged to design the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly building possible that utilizes hydrogen produced from renewable sources for as much of its energy needs as feasible.
The students from Wayne State Team 1 advised by Ming-Chia Lai, professor of mechanical engineering, were Walter Bies (BSME’08), Nick Campbell (mechanical engineering senior) Pao Kue (BSME’08), Michael Nowicki (alternative energy technology graduate student), and Erin Pravato (BSME’08). Their proposal earned them 175 out of 210 possible points.
Wayne State Team 2, also advised by Professor Lai, was made up of Hassaan Mansoor (BSME’08), and mechanical engineering seniors Andrew Dickerson, Scott Martin, Riki Patel, and Steve Znoy. Their design scored 155 of 210 points.
Beginning the project in September 2008, the students prepared a detailed report, including a design analysis (featuring floor plans, mechanical design, an electrical plan, a plumbing plan, and structural design), a safety analysis, an economic/business analysis, an environmental analysis (projecting energy efficiency and emissions), and a marketing and education plan to build support for the plan, allay safety fears and educate the community on benefits of hydrogen technologies.
The winners were announced during the National Hydrogen Association Annual Conference and Hydrogen Expo in Columbia, South Carolina, held March 30 to April 3, where Lai and two representatives from each team presented their projects.
According to Lai, the success of the Wayne State teams is particularly noteworthy because many of the competing teams had more team members from multiple disciplines. “Our students competed well with other teams with much larger student numbers and a more inter-disciplinary background – architectural/electrical/mechanical/chemical/civil versus our mostly mechanical engineering students,” says Lai.
But despite the potential challenge, both teams were successful and, according to Team 2 project manager Hassaan Mansoor, now have a great experience to help them in their future careers. “I just graduated in December and am currently looking for a job,” says Mansoor. “The project is one of the top three in my resume and should help with future employment. We met a lot of CEOs in South Carolina who were looking at our projects and very impressed with what we were doing.”
The University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada won the Grand Prize.