Environmental Engineering Undergraduates Won Top Prize in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge

Michael Goldberg, Abigail Hawley, and Paige Humecki, all are BSEE’13 in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Michael Narea of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering were awarded the Grand Prize in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge (SISC).  Their project is entitled IdealGas.  Advised by Yun Wang, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, these students seek to optimize biodigester technology for the food and beverage industry and bring distributed, C-neutral biomass energy to the urban setting. The students will determine the rate and composition of biogas production generated by the organic wastes from a juice bar, distillery, brewery, coffee shop, and campus dining hall. With the SISC award the students plan to build prototype reactors and pursue commercialization of their idea.

The Dow Sustainability Student Challenge is an initiative to recognize exceptional work by students who are engaged in ongoing scientific, technical, or social research to develop innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to meet human needs while also protecting the environment, promoting economic growth, and achieving social welfare, now and into the future.

Kimberly Gray, professor of civil and environmental engineering, stated, “For five years now, Northwestern University and the Dow Chemical Company have partnered to recognize the extraordinary and innovative work that our students and faculty are doing to develop environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially equitable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. We are grateful to the Dow Chemical Company Foundation for including NU in this international effort to promote sustainability.”

The Dow Chemical Company Foundation oversees the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge. Eligible areas of research include sustainable chemistry, energy efficiency and conservation, reducing climate change impact, life cycle product safety, and sustainable freshwater supply and distribution.

"The award-winning students of Northwestern University, and all the students who compete in this challenge, are sources of inspiration to Dow and to the world. When you see how deeply they care about the problems, and you see that passion applied to the laws of science in their work, you gain a renewed appreciation for how important our young leaders are to the planet's future." said Neil Hawkins, Sc.D. Vice President Sustainability & Environment, Health & Safety at Dow.