UGA Engineering students awarded sustainability grants

Autumn leavesThe University of Georgia awarded $40,000 to fund 11 interdisciplinary student projects, including several led by College of Engineering students, through the Office of Sustainability’s annual Campus Sustainability Grants program.

Funded by student green fees, the program provides financial and staff resources to help students implement projects that further the university’s sustainability mission.

Project proposals were received from interdisciplinary student teams across multiple academic disciplines. A selection committee of students, faculty and staff made the final recommendations for projects to receive funding for implementation in 2017. Students were given freedom to develop and propose innovative solutions to address goals in UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan to promote stewardship of natural resources and advance sustainability research, education and service at UGA and beyond.

Since inception of the Campus Sustainability Grants program in 2010, the Office of Sustainability has awarded a total of $210,000 to fund 58 student-initiated projects on campus and in the community.

“Campus Sustainability Grants provide opportunities for innovation and experiential learning,” said Kevin Kirsche, UGA director of sustainability. “Students are asked to envision better solutions to current challenges and are provided resources to take their ideas from concept to completion.”

Recipients of the 2017 Campus Sustainability Grants are:

Sustainable Inspection of Campus Facilities using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology 

Julian Moore and John Box, in the College of Engineering, will use drones to provide low-cost, high-efficiency inspection of roofs, moisture and radiant heat on campus structures.

Regenerative Gym Equipment 

Nico Hoernle, a student in the College of Engineering, will create an exercise spin bike that generates electricity. Other student collaborators include Hayden Salyer and Josef Provatakis.

Testing Model Predictive Control to Determine On-Campus HVAC Energy Reduction

Matthew Becton, a Ph.D. student in the College of Engineering, along with biochemical engineering student Nicholas Winter, will work to conserve energy in campus buildings through software that predicts outdoor temperatures.

Utilizing Floating Wetlands to Improve Water Quality in Lake Herrick

Sarah Hensey, in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, will construct an aquatic system of floating plant material designed to improve water quality in Lake Herrick. Other student collaborators include Aaron Trimble, Cody Matteson, Muhan (Harry) Qiu and Jordan Francis.

Sunshine Savings Initiative

Tommy Lehner, in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, will use enhanced lighting controls to conserve energy in the Miller Learning Center.

Development of a Tensiometer and Automated Irrigation Controller to Reduce Irrigation Water Use

Jesse Lafian, in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will measure soil moisture to determine optimal timing for irrigation.

Missing Spokes: Mapping Diverse Bicycling Experiences in Athens, GA

Ian Rossiter, a geography master’s student in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will collect data to develop an equitable bike master plan. Other student collaborators include Sam Weber, David Rickless, Sam Tingle and Stephen Jordan.

A Focus on Learning: FACS Hygiene Closet

Anna Beth Smith, in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, will expand the FACS Hygiene Closet by installing additional shelves and purchasing needed items to better serve students in need. Other student collaborators include Erika Massie and Dana Carney.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Sustainable Stormwater Design at the Science Learning Center

Callie Oldfield, a plant biology Ph.D. student in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will evaluate the effectiveness of recently installed stormwater infrastructure around the Science Learning Center and increase awareness of sustainable stormwater practices among students and the public. Other student collaborators include Molly Smith, DeShantra Kelly, Ansley Vardeman, Jeffrey Rones and Tae-In Lee.

Vegetated Rooftop Rejuvenation Project 

Grace Catherine Peoples, a student in the School of Public and International Affairs, will work to enhance the green roof at Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center.

Dodds and Ends

Kira Hegeman, an art education Ph.D. student in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, will work to enhance learning among students and teachers in local middle schools through hands-on design and construction using salvaged materials. Other student collaborators include Hary Harrison.

For more information on Campus Sustainability Grants and other initiatives of the UGA Office of Sustainability, see

Writer: Andrew Lentini

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