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Student Engineering Council seeking teams for first Alternative Energy Challenge; up to $4,000 in prize money

The Student Engineering Council has announced the first Alternative Energy Challenge, a competition with up to $4,000 in prize money for the team that designs and builds the best device that captures energy on campus in a sustainable and “green” way.

Andrew Bellay, vice president of corporate relations for the council, says the challenge is open to both undergraduate and graduate engineering students. Each team must have at least three or four members. At least two of the members must be undergraduates, and at least two engineering disciplines must be represented (such as Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering).

Registration for the challenge ends Feb. 16.

Bellay, a chemical engineering senior, says the council created the competition as a way to promote technical problem solving for alternative energy, to foster interdisciplinary teamwork and leadership, and to provide a hands-on experience for students in the Cockrell School of Engineering.
While wind and solar energy will be obvious choices, Bellay is encouraging students to use their creativity.

“We’re encouraging them to think outside the box in any way,” he says. “I’m opening it up to anything.”

Teams will be judged on a variety of criteria, such as the amount of energy captured, reliability, durability, and the ease of implementation.

Once teams submit their designs, between three to five will be selected to build them for the second phase of the challenge. Bellay hopes the devices will remain installed on campus after the competition, which is expected to last through the end of the semester.

“We would like for the devices to become a semi-permanent part of the engineering campus as testaments to student ingenuity and problem solving,” Bellay says.

The design stage will have monetary prizes (up to $1,000) for the top three winners, in addition to the $3,000 grand prize which is awarded at the end of the build stage.

Information sessions on the competition will be held in the 10th floor conference room in the ECJ building from 5-6 p.m. Feb. 11 and 4-5 p.m. Feb. 12.

For more information on the Alternative Energy Challenge, visit: www.engr.utexas.edu/sec/aec/