Distinguished judges applaud student
innovation in Imagine Tomorrow 2008
“Phenomenal” is how high school students’ Imagine Tomorrow projects were described by M. Grant Norton, associate dean in the Washington State University College of Engineering and Architecture, co-chair of the event, and himself a developer of alternative fuel technology.
One team built a hydrogen engine from pieces of old appliances. Another launched a school-wide challenge to lower CO2 emissions. Yet another proposed using algae to reduce CO2 emissions in the production of concrete.
Following the theme “Power Your Future,” eighty-nine entries from high schools throughout Washington sought unique ways to address the nation’s looming energy problems. Each team addressed the challenge in one of four categories: technology, design, behavior, or society. Nearly $100,000 in prize money was awarded to participating students and their schools, thanks to the generosity of competition sponsors.
$5,000 went to each member of the Grand Prize winning team and their school: Lake Roosevelt High School in Coulee Dam. The Grand Prize winning innovation, “Customizable Hydrogen Production,” presented alternative methods of generating power for a typical home. The team displayed miniature, working models of a wind belt, solar panels, a hydropower collection system, and a hydrogen fuel cell that powered a small motor.
“The winning entries showed extraordinary innovation,” said Dr. Norton. “Some of the student teams looked for new solutions and approaches, while others applied existing ideas in novel ways. The students were not afraid to think outside the box and it is both encouraging and comforting to know that Washington’s high school students were able to respond in such innovative ways when presented with one of society’s grand challenges.”
Competition judges, who included nationally renowned University faculty and leaders in industry from throughout the state, were wowed by the students’ innovations. Jeff Johnson, a senior systems engineer at Microsoft, described the competition entries as “amazing.” Imagine Tomorrow co-chair Jill Watz, director of the Climate Change Initiative for Vulcan Inc., concurred. “They thought through their projects and came prepared,” she said.
Many who served as judges are key figures at the more than 25 companies sponsoring the competition. The list of sponsors included The Boeing Company, The Bullitt Foundation, BP Cherry Point Refinery, The Seattle Times, Vulcan, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Weyerhaeuser.
The event culminated in an awards ceremony where keynote speaker Denis Hayes, President of The Bullitt Foundation and board chair of the International Earth Day Network, told a rapt audience, “Every one of you has a torch out there with your name on it. It will be up to you to find it, seize it, and carry it to your destiny.”
In addition to the Grand Prize, first through third place winners in each category took home cash prizes.
After competing, students got a taste of university-level research in a series of tours and workshops on the Washington State campus. Topics included research in biofuels, solar power, and landscape architecture; a tour of a nuclear power plant; and a glimpse of various “green” initiatives across campus.
Many participants are already planning their entries for the 2009 Imagine Tomorrow competition, to be held May 29-31.
For information about the Imagine Tomorrow competition, please contact Tena Old at email@example.com or 509-335-1467.
The Seattle Times
Hey, kids: We made the global-warming mess, can you clean it up?