A team of UO landscape architecture students has won additional startup funding for a water filtration prototype, this time $2,500 in the statewide Portland State University Cleantech Challenge and a chance at winning another $10,000 in September. Earlier, the team won $10,000 in a global competition and the chance to compete for a $100,000 prize to be awarded in October. In a further show of team unity and largesse, one team member plans to use a separate, individual $15,000 scholarship stipend to further her team’s research.
Their project, “Penthouse Protozoa: The Living Filtration System,” is designed to trap excess fertilizer in agricultural fields where it’s gradually absorbed by plants rather than leaving fields as polluted runoff. The team includes Wade Hanson, Casey Howard, Matt Jorgensen, Alison Lewis, and Krisztian Megyeri.
Above: UO landscape architecture students (from left) Alison Lewis, Matt Jorgensen, Wade Hanson, Casey Howard, and Krisztian Megyeri won first prize in the Biomimicry Challenge last year. They just won a statewide competition to further develop their prototype.
Howard, the sole undergraduate on the team, was awarded the 2016 National Olmsted Scholar Award and is using its $15,000 stipend to further her team’s research.
Above: Casey Howard
The students began their project in a spring 2015 class taught by UO Instructors Anne Godfrey and Emma Froh.
The PSU Cleantech Challenge, hosted by Portland State University and presented by Wells Fargo, selected ten student teams from universities around Oregon to each receive $2,500 to develop prototypes of environmentally friendly inventions and compete for a grand prize of $10,000 to help bring their innovations to market.
In addition to the prototype funding, each finalist team in the Cleantech Challenge has been matched with a business development mentor and provided with workspace to refine their ideas and further develop their product pitches over the summer in preparation for the final competition in September.
Last fall, the UO team won the $10,000 first-place prize and advancement to the final round of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, which asked participants to tackle any aspect of the food system that could be improved by looking to nature for design guidance. The final competition takes place in October in San Rafael, California, where teams will compete for the $100,000 Ray of Hope prize.