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Illinois Team Is A Winner In EPA Competition

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In: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering exit EPA
By: Rick Kubetz
May 1, 2007

U of I team meets with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin following the P3 competition.

In late April, a team of University of Illinois students was one of the top winners of the "People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3)" competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the award ceremony on April 25, held at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington D.C., the Illinois team was awarded $75,000 as one of six overall winners of the national competition. This is the first time any group of students from UIUC has won this award.

"Last year, this team competed in preliminary competition, and their proposal received a $10,000 award, which allowed for development of the actual project," explained Prasanta Kalita, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and research advisor for the U of I team.

"Our project focuses on the bioremediation of agricultural chemicals to protect ground water," Kalita added. The team, consisting of nine undergraduates and three graduate students from the departments of agricultural and biological engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and chemistry included Steve Anderson, Malia Appleford, Greg Byard, Paul Davidson, Joseph Good, Gregory Goodwin, David Hasse, Daniel Koch, Brandon Kocher, Andy Lenkaitis, Amanda Olsen, and Luke Zwilling.

So what are they going to do with the prize money?

According to Kalita, the team is now going to do a more in-depth field study, installing and monitoring the effects of their system.

"The team has already developed an agreement with a university in India, and we are planning to collaborate and work with students there," he said. "That is the best part of it. Water quality is a big problem there. Our students will get the opportunity to see the problems first-hand, and they will be able to apply this technology to help people." Kalita said that the team will try to get additional funding to bring a few of the Indian students here to learn more about installing and utilizing the technology.

"Undergraduate research and more global experience for our students are elements of the University's strategic plan," he said. "This way, we can impact the world."

About 50 teams from across the nation participated in a design-research competition held at the National Mall. The judges were all members of the National Academy of Engineers. After the award ceremony, the team attended a breakfast meeting with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

Contact: Prasanta Kalita, 217/333-0945, pkalita@uiuc.edu.

Writer: Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office, 217/244-7716, rkubetz@uiuc.edu


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