Imagine Tomorrow: The Big Winner is…..

Washington State University:Washington State University  For six years, Washington State University has hosted the Imagine Tomorrow competition.  Kudos to WSU for not only hosting this fantastic event, but rolling out the red carpet to judges, teachers, and high school students to create a program that is truly inspirational and unique.

Imagine Tomorrow challenges high school students to seek new ways to support the transition to alternative energy sources. Students research energy and environmental problems, then propose solutions.  They must form and work in teams to be successful.

It is part science fair, part business plan competition, and part–well just plain unique.  In 2013, over 500 students from three states formed nearly 150 teams to enter the competition.  Each team had a faculty advisor.  Nearly 150 judges participated from all over the region.

All day Saturday, May 18, judges roamed the Compton Union Building on the campus of Washington State University hearing pitches from high school teams about their projects.  The projects dealt with environmental and energy challenges that were placed in one of four categories:   Biofuels, technology, behavior, or design.

I can tell you, as a third year judge, that it is an exhausting weekend.  We travel to and from Pullman, talk to some great WSU academics, participate in receptions and meetings, spend all day on Saturday on our feet, and, of course, have a chance to socialize with our colleagues.

I can also tell you that people come home invigorated by some new, out-of-the-box thinking from some pretty bright young people…and are ready to sign up for the following year.  (You should, too!)

Here are the Imagine Tomorrow 2013 Award Recipients:

BEHAVIOR CHALLENGE:  Consider the question of why people are resistant to adopting and implementing alternate sources of energy. Document a personal or social quality that contributes to this resistance, or demonstrate an intervention that can be applied at the personal, local, or societal level to encourage people to consider and adopt alternate energy sources.

  • Behavior – 1st place | Most Innovative:  Gaming for the Future, Sentinel High School, Missoula, MT.  How can we use popular media to influence behavior and encourage individuals to take personal responsibility to improve the environment?
  • Behavior – 2nd Place | Newly Participating School — Montana At Large Congressional District:  CUP — Just Own It!, Hellgate High School, Missoula, MT.  How can we encourage an increase in the use of reusable containers in order to reduce waste in our community?
  • Behavior – 3rd Place:  Increasing the Awareness of Water Pollutants, Camas High School, Camas, WA. Can we identify the foundation of resistance and positively influence the problem caused by personal choices when using environmental contaminants, by raising future generations’ awareness of the future energy costs?
  • Behavior – 4th Place:  Developing an Incentive for Tertiary Wastewater Treatment, STEM School, Redmond, WA.  How do we incentivize tertiary wastewater treatment for wastewater treatment plants?

BIOFUELS CHALLENGE:  The range of biofuels being proposed for use in transportation ranges from ethanol to biodiesel, and the feedstocks that are used to create these fuels vary around the country. Demonstrate a technological, design, or behavioral aspect of how biofuels will be utilized in the U.S. or around the world

  • Biofuels — 1st Place | Newly Participating School — Washington Congressional District #1:  The Effect on Methane Production During the Anaerobic Digestion of Cow Manure Along with Biodegradable Plastic, Henry M. Jackson High School, Mill Creek, WA.  What is the effect on methane production during the anaerobic digestion of cow manure along with biodegradable plastic? 
  •  Biofuels – 2nd Place: Testing the Practicality of Scaling up a Photosynthetic Bioreactor in Order to Determine the Efficiencies and Energy Used to Grow Algae for Biodiesel, Cascade Jr.-Sr. High School, Cascade, WA.  Can we scale up a model photosynthetic bioreactor that uses solar power for electricity and sunlight for photosynthesis to grow algae efficiently and effectively?
  •  Biofuels — 3rd Place:  Algae Biofuel From Wastewater, STEM School, Redmond, WA.  Can we grow algae biofuels using wastewater treatment?
  • Biofuels – 4th Place:  A Design to Purify Methane Biogas from Animal Waste, Camas High School, Camas, WA.  How can we design a system to separate contaminants out of biogas to create methane without using harmful chemicals?

DESIGN CHALLENGE:  Design a living/working space (a building, suburb, town, or city) that has significantly lower energy demand or energy-related emissions than at present.

  • Design – 1st Place:  Core, STEM High School, Redmond, WA.  How can existing homes be outfitted with renewable energy technologies in a manner that is economically viable and reduces carbon dioxide emissions?
  • Design – 2nd Place | Newly Participating School — Idaho Congressional District #1: Sunshine Mobile Energy Company, Lewiston High School, Lewiston, ID. Can we design and fabricate a solar-powered cart that could be utilized to process food in a Third World country?
  • Design – 3rd Place | Most Likely to Succeed in the Marketplace:  Carbon Footprint Calculator App, TAF Academy, Kent, WA.  How can we design an app that will accurately inform the user of his/her carbon footprint and give suggestions for lowering it?       
  • Design – 4th Place:  A Greener School, Ellensburg High School, Ellensburg, WA.  How can the Ellensburg School District’s new middle school incorporate environmentally friendly aspects and technologies?

 TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGE:  Invent or redesign a machine or process that uses sustainable technologies for energy production, consumption, and conservation.

  • Technology — 1st Place:  IHEMS, Union High School, Camas, WA.  Homeowners need an easy and affordable way to control and monitor home energy usage while learning about their home’s consumption of energy and its effect on the environment.
  • Technology — 2nd Place: WorldWaterNOW, Hudson’s Bay High School, Vancouver, WA.  How can the processes used in treating the human waste stream be compartmentalized into a usable, portable system that will produce clean, potable water?
  • Technology – 3rd Place:  Solar Thermal Desalinization Plant, STEM School, Redmond, WA.  How can the process of desalinizing seawater be made more environmentally sustainable?
  • Technology – 4th Place:  Scrap Power 2, Lake Roosevelt High School, Coulee Dam, WA.  Can digital power techniques and microprocessor control be utilized to produce modest amounts of electrical power within the constraints of a rural African community?
Newly Participating School — Idaho Congressional District #2:  Capital High School Hydrogen Separation Project, Capital High School, Boise, ID.  Is it possible to effectively use a single replacement reaction between HCl and Al to create H2 and AlCl3 as a source of H2 gas with AlCl3 as a byproduct?

Newly Participating School – Washington Congressional District #3:  SEARCH, Vancouver iTech Preparatory, Vancouver, WA.  How can advanced technology, modern design techniques, and alternative materials be used to conceive a community that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and energy efficient?

Newly Participating School — Washington Congressional District #4 | Advisor’s Favorite:  America’s Resource Consumption Diet Plan, Tri Tech Skills Center, Kennewick, WA.  How can we modify Americans’ behavior and attitudes to accept smaller, alternative-energy-supplied homes, which will reduce overall resource consumption while lowering worldwide CO2 emissions?

Newly Participating School — Washington Congressional District #5:  Eco-Friendly Low-Income Housing, Lewis and Clark High School, Spokane, WA.  How can we implement “green” design in apartment complexes to minimize water usage?

Newly Participating School — Washington Congressional District #6:  Tidal Production of Electricity, Kingston High School, Kingston, WA.  How can the energy of Puget Sound tidal currents be used to generate electricity in the most ideal manner, while limiting the negative impacts to natural ecosystems?

Newly Participating School — Washington Congressional District #9:  Utilitrack, Aviation High School, Des Moines, WA.  What piece of engineering can we create to help control climate change?

Community Impact Award:  Living the Eco-Friendly Design, STEM School, Redmond, WA.  What is the most energy-efficient way to design an urban building that accomplishes conservation of resources and environmental goals that can be incorporated into everyday life?

Global Impact Award:  The Green Lantern, Bellingham High School, Bellingham, WA.  How can we create a solar-powered lantern that can efficiently and effectively generate energy, potentially for use in Third World countries?

Most Inspirational:  Our Native Table, Lake Roosevelt High School, Coulee Dam, WA.  Can educating Native American youth and others about their ancestral food genealogy, food gathering, storage, and preparation, lead to healthier food choices and a lower risk of diabetes?