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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Minnesota State Mankato students among winning teams in national 'global challenges' contest

One of 39 EPA grants

Engineering students win global sustainability contest.

By Nancy L. Pontius [published on NewsBlaze Internet news service, 12/18/2008]

A government-sponsored contest is prompting creative solutions to global challenges in agriculture, construction, energy, information technology and water resources to benefit the developed and the developing world.

In November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in its People, Prosperity and the Planet national design competition, awarded $880,000 in grants to student teams representing 39 institutions of higher learning in 23 U.S. states.

The program supports scientific and technical innovations that simultaneously achieve three key goals of sustainability: improved quality of life for all people, economic prosperity and protection of the planet.

"The beauty of the People, Prosperity and the Planet program is that it harnesses one of our most abundant natural resources: student brain power," said George Gray, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development. "Through innovation and creativity, these student teams turn environmental challenges into opportunities that protect the environment, build new businesses and create new careers."

In the 2008 award-winning projects, students are investigating ways to improve and sustain life for millions. Examples include the following:

"These projects are good for the environment, beneficial for all countries, including developing countries, and a means for the United States to create jobs," Chris Zarba, deputy director of EPA's National Center for Environmental Research, told

In 2007, hundreds of student teams competed for 43 initial phase I grants of $10,000. Winners of the initial grants compete for additional funding up to $75,000 that is awarded to six projects annually. The P3 Award marks the second phase of the competition.

The increased funding allows students to further develop their designs, test prototype models and move them to the marketplace. "Our goal is to bring products to market and not have them sit on the shelf," Zarba said.

Established in 2004, the P3 Award program is funded by EPA and promoted by 42 U.S. partner organizations, including government agencies (such as NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture), businesses (such as Dell, Nexant, Herman Miller and Hewlett-Packard) and private organizations (including the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Civil Engineers and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences).

Each spring, phase I teams present their projects at the National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, where they compete for the P3 Award.

In 2009, EPA plans to fund approximately 35 phase I grants (up to $10,000 each) and five phase II awards (up to $75,000 each) for further project development.

More information about EPA's P3 Award program ( ) is available on the agency's Web site.

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