CEE Students Win Undergraduate Research Grants

Civil and Environmental Engineering students Chen Zheng and Shiyuan Zhou won Undergraduate Research Grants from The Office of the Provost in January. The grants are awarded to students who are exploring a topic of interest beyond the classroom by designing an original scholarly or creative project.

Zheng and Zhou's winning projects are part of a larger student endeavor, "Hydraulic Ram Pump for Clean Water Delivery in the Philippines." The team's goal is to investigate ram pump technology by building prototypes and designing an innovative waste valve to be installed in a rural village in the Philippines.

Zheng won for "Optimizing Functionality of Air Chamber," in which he is building and testing different air chambers in order to determine how shape and size impact ram pump performance. Zhou's winning project, "Innovative Ram Pump Waste Valve," involves designing a waste valve lever mechanism in order to make a pump safer and easier to use.

According to the 2006 United Nations Human Development Report, more than one billion people do not have access to clean water and more than two billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. This is a major issue in the Philippines where rural people, who live in hilly, upland communities, must scale difficult terrain to fetch water. This summer, students will travel to the village of Tres Hermanos to install the low-cost, low-maintenance ram pump, making water and sanitation more accessible to residents.

Associate Professor Aaron Packman is the students' advisor. Other team members are: Auke Idzenga, Jon Lamano, Joseph Park, Jason Selwitz and team leader Junzi Shi. Graduate students Antoine Aubeneau and Jennifer Drummond have been assisting with laboratory work.

The Office of the Provost funds the Undergraduate Research Grants Program. It offers Academic Year Grants of up to $1,000 and Summer Grants of $3,000 to undergraduates pursuing independent research projects.

The remaining deadlines to apply for 2009-10 grants are February 23 for Academic Year Grants and March 12 for Summer Grants.