Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Saint-Gobain has sponsored 7 student teams in the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 challenge.

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The aim of this international academic architectural competition was to improve education and research in the fields of sustainable architecture and solar energy. This year, 20 student teams representing 41 universities from 16 countries and three continents have presented full-scale prototypes of the sustainable, comfortable, innovative and affordable solar energy houses they designed.

Take a look at the top contenders:

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Check out the career opportunities with Saint-Gobain

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If you’ve read the children’s tale of Jack, the Giant Killer and his adventures scaling the beanstalk (or some version of this story that has been handed down in a non-US culture), you know that climbing high can have its rewards and its challenges.  Vertical farms may bring a new language to farming around the globe – as we climb ever higher to feed our expanding world population.

Vertical farming is a way in which smaller spaces can be used to produce quantities of produce and plant life that plots of land don’t allow for in crowded or urban areas.  “Simply put, vertical farming means using a multi-level building, preferably within an urban centre, to grow food.” (JP Brown)  Check out his full post on LinkedIn:  Growing Up, Not Out: The Potential of Vertical Farming

Take a look at some of the companies that are involved with this growing technique.  Maybe there’s an employment opp here for you?

SkyGreens in Singapore

The Plant in Chicago

Terrasphere in Boston

Green Living Technologies, Inc.


See the vids! maybe order the book?


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This year was the first time that Engineers for a Sustainable World hosted the Alternative Energy Challenge at UT Austin. We are happy to say that the competition was a great success! Three teams spent roughly 6 weeks building their designs and the results were quite impressive. The teams were:

Team Gurlz: The Humble Umbrella. A patio umbrella that can be deployed at restaurants and coffee shops around Austin that utilizes solar and wind power to charge electronics.

The Dream Team: Solar Powered Rooftop Hydroponics System to grow food in urban environments.

Team RAJ: A Peltier thermoelectric generator to capture heat energy released by appliances such as light bulbs and convert the heat energy to electrical energy.

In the final judging round, each team presented their research and prototypes to an audience of roughly 40 UT Austin Engineering students as well as three judges. In the end, the judges selected Team Gurlz as the winner of the competition. We are very proud to present them with a cash prize as well as recognition as the Spring 2014 winners of the Alternative Energy Challenge!

We would like to congratulate all the teams who participated in the Spring 2014 ESW Alternative Energy Challenge. Your hard work and dedication was very apparent and the judges were thoroughly impressed. The Dream Team plans to continue working on the solar powered filtration system for their hydroponic system. Team RAJ is still working through the technical details of their ambitious project. Team Gurlz spoke about implementing their prototype at a local coffee shop in Austin.

The Humble Umbrella

The Humble Umbrella

Team Gurlz

Team Gurlz

The Dream Team

The Dream Team

Audience at the final judging round.

Audience at the final judging round.

Team RAJ

Team RAJ

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Building a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.  That is the mission of  World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), of which I’ve been a supporter for many years.

One of their initiatives currently underway is the pilot of a Payment for Environmental Services (PES) program.  PES is the practice of offering incentives to farmers or landowners in exchange for managing their land to provide an ecological service.  In this instance, a watershed plan is being undertaken for the Mara River Basin.  (60% located in Kenya and 40% in Tanzania.)

The goal of PES for the Mara River Basin is improved water quality as well as improved flow regime that will catalyze sustainable watershed management and create a win-win situation between the community (the land-owners) and the private sector partners. Furthermore, the upstream farmers will see an improvement in livelihoods as slow down of soil erosion and reverse of forest loss leading to an increase in agricultural productivity.

Read all about it:  Piloting PES in the Mara River Basin

Click on the panda & get informed on all of the global good being done by WWF!  WWF logo

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July 6th, 2014

Graduate students craft a plan for the future of Africa’s power grid


UC Berkeley students lead the way on another continent… Solar africa

“In collaboration with researchers at the agency and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Wu and Deshmukh are working with officials from 22 countries in eastern and southern Africa to identify zones that are well-suited for development of electricity production from wind, solar, and geothermal energy.”


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