Community Outreach Projects
Energy Efficient Building Technology Challenge
First place (Prize Award of $5,000)
Low Cost Wind Turbine Tied with Energy Savings System
Rising juniors Micah Toll, a mechanical engineering student in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, and Shaun Espenshade, a rhetoric and classics student at Duquesne University, constructed a lightweight plastic wind turbine and backed it up with a rundown of useful-and often obscure-tips for reducing home-power consumption. The turbine consists of a plastic rotor and tower-they built one 6-foot and one 12-foot tower-that homeowners could install themselves. The turbine could power either a battery bank that appliances could be plugged into directly, or it could connect directly to a household circuit breaker. "We wanted to generate as much sustainable power as possible, but still make something the average family could use," said Toll, the turbine's primary designer. "Commercial turbines generate more power, but a nuclear family doesn't want to wait five or 10 years for it to pay for itself. This is a low-cost investment with a short payback period and a small sacrifice of power." The accompanying booklet complements the turbine by encouraging less energy use, explained Espenshade, who compiled energy saving tips from various sources. The booklet includes such well known advice as planting trees on the sunny side of the house to more creative pointers such as not keeping TVs, lamps, and other heat-producing appliances near the thermostat because they can distort the reading.
Second Place (Prize Award of $2,500)
Solar Assisted Window Fan
University of Pittsburgh mechanical engineering student Patrick Wetherill and industrial engineering student Stephen Palmer combined cooling and heating systems into a single device with a solar-assisted window fan/ heating unit.
Third Place (Prize Award of $1,000)
From Carnegie Mellon, chemistry student Jacob Mohin, architecture student David Kennedy, and mechanical engineering student Benjamin Kwadwo Som-Pimpong created a device that would transmit home power-use data to a personalized Web site, reducing consumption by informing people of how much power they burn.