NJIT will be a unique contender in the upcoming April 16-17, 2011 P3 award competition on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The free event open to the public, is part of the National Sustainable Design Expo and is sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Earth Day. Two student groups at NJIT have been invited to strut their stuff and showcase their environmental solutions. Usually only one group from a university or organization is asked to compete.
For their efforts, each NJIT group hopes to obtain more funding from the EPA program known as A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010). Both groups have already received $10,000 or one year of EPA support.
The NJIT Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) will demonstrate its ecologically-sustainable sanitation system developed for a small hospital in northern Haiti. Some 15 engineering students, the majority of whom are NJIT Albert Dorman Honors College scholars, designed a special latrine. The receptacle will not only collect human waste but also convert the waste into methane and fertilizer.
Through a mechanism known as anaerobic digestion, the latrine will capture methane gas emissions to be used on-site as heating fuel. Jay Meegoda, a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering, is the faculty advisor.
EWB members at NJIT have been working in Milot since 2006, to provide potable water. The students helped 25 families install bio-sand filters in their homes. The project came to life when a physician working with Doctors Without Borders at the local hospital kept seeing people getting ill from the water. He explained the problem to his friend Meegoda who, in turn, started EWB. Students and others flocked to the first standing-room-only meeting.
The-Greenvine, a website, is the other project. “It is a platform for a virtual community to facilitate more socially and environmentally equitable consumer purchasing practices,” said faculty advisor Maurie Cohen, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and environmental science at NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts. The five students who run The-Greenvine, also Albert Dorman Honors College students, hope to see participation mushroom.
“The students created a virtual community to encourage people to lessen the ecological and social impacts of the products that they purchase,” said Cohen. “The aim is to enable people to confidently and readily make eco-smart product choices. We believe that by exchanging information, trading tips, and offering encouragement, people will embrace electronic shopping guides and integrate them into their lifestyles.”
The website doesn’t provide product evaluations or assurances. But it does link to a database developed by University of California at Berkeley called The GoodGuide. “This has become the prevailing standard for conducting such analysis and reporting these kinds of data,” Cohen said. “The project’s aim is not in specific methodologies for ranking products, but rather in the social scientific dimensions of how ordinary people take up this information and put it into practice.” To learn more, visit, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30ktAQUol1A