Students’ Clean Energy Projects Awe and Inspire
Vega, a Southern California Edison engineer and one of the judges for the inaugural Edison Award as part of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, recalls one project from students in Japan that blew his mind.
“These students used chemical reactions with leftover tea leaves to create hydrogen gas for use in fuel cell vehicles,” he said. “They took what would be waste and made something out of it in an impactful way.”
He joked that it may be time for him to “go back to school” if he wants to keep up with these young scientists and engineers.
Founded and produced by the Society for Science, a nonprofit “dedicated to expanding scientific literacy, effective STEM education and scientific research,” the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s largest international high school competition of its kind. Edison International supported this year’s competition with a $25,000 grant.
“Through the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, we are able to provide an annual forum for almost 2,000 high school students from around the world to showcase their STEM talent on an international stage,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science and publisher of Science News. “Through the Special Award Organization program, these amazing students have an opportunity to connect with professionals at very impressive companies and organizations, such as Southern California Edison.”
The Edison Award — one of 50 special awards presented at this competition — was created to recognize innovative projects that address some of the toughest challenges facing our society today, like reducing greenhouse gases and developing clean energy technologies.
Student projects were judged by a team of veteran SCE engineers: Fernando Peña, Vega, Ignacio Sanchez and Valerie Brewer. They assessed how each project advanced a clean energy future and scored them based on five criteria: safety, clean energy, originality, feasibility and progress.
“It was amazing and refreshing to see the students’ projects and their ability to innovate,” said Brewer, one of SCE’s engineer judges.
These projects just make you see how these kids are evolving, and the innovative ideas they have,” he said. “Their lives are going to be the ones affected by climate change, so we must support them and give their ideas a voice.”Jeovany Vega, SCE Engineer
She pointed to a project where the students proposed harvesting solar energy through the leaves on photovoltaic 3D-printed trees — using a design nature created — as an example of their ability to innovate and create simple solutions to complex problems.
“These young minds have the ability to keep things simple,” she said. “They can see things for what they are without the complex nuance that comes from adulthood.”
For Vega, he believes it is important to continue to encourage today’s kids to think outside the box, especially when it comes to addressing challenging environmental issues.
“These projects just make you see how these kids are evolving, and the innovative ideas they have,” he said. “Their lives are going to be the ones affected by climate change, so we must support them and give their ideas a voice.”
To view all the finalists’ projects, including the winners of the Edison Award, visit projectboard.world/isef.
The Edison Award winners and their projects:
- First Award: Project — Photochemical Hydrogen Production Using Tea Leaf Residue and Iron Ions (Rio Tanimoto, Ryo Mochizuki, and Hibiki Tanaka of Shizuoka, Japan)
- Second Award: Project — Solar Park with Photovoltaic 3D-printed Trees: Technology Allies with Nature (Charikleia Moraitaki and Maria-Eleni Batatoudi of Attica, Greece)
- Third Award: Project — Generating an Electrical Power System from a Static Bicycle (Sebastian Negron-Collazo of Villalba, Puerto Rico)
- Fourth Award: Project — Harnessing Household Water Potential (Wyatt Manthey of Sunburst, Montana)
- Fifth Award: Project — Portable Self Powered Generator that Uses Magnetic Induction to Generate Electricity (Adrian Machingura of Zimbabwe)