CSU Engineering Students Solving the World’s Problems in 12 Hours on August 16

Note to Reporters: Photos of previous 1Mpact Challenge events are available with the news release at http://www.news.colostate.edu. Teams are likely to do the most work on their entries between 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Aug. 16. To follow the 1Mpact Challenge live, go to http://eecl.colostate.edu/1Mpact/blog.php or follow @EnginesLab on Twitter #1Mpact.

In a 12-hour period, Colorado State University engineering students, faculty and staff have envisioned, designed and built a solar tracking engine for small-scale farming irrigation pumps and a longer-lasting filtration system for rescue worker respirators.

And those are just the winning projects from the last several years of the annual 1Mpact Challenge at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory – a fun, internal competition that is designed to get teams to think innovatively as the school year starts.

The competition gives new meaning to thinking outside of the box.

Students, faculty and staff are randomly assigned to six to eight teams that have one day – 12 hours – to create an energy-related solution that could help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The competition begins at 7 a.m.Thursday, Aug. 16 at the laboratory, 430 N. College Ave., Fort Collins. Students are expected to complete the majority of their work between 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

“The 1Mpact Challenge is designed as an expression of the lab’s mission: to create innovative energy solutions and entrepreneurial models that benefit the human condition and achieve global impact,” said Mac McGoldrick, the laboratory’s operations manager. “We want these teams to conceptualize a product with regard to its scientific and technological design, create a business case for its commercialization, and then present their work to a panel of judges – all in 12hours.”

To spur interest and ideas, lab representatives asked 25 CEOs in the Fort Collins area for their most challenging engineering problems, which will be shared with the teams, McGoldrick said. Also participating in the competition will be two Woodward engineers and a CSU business student who is a member of Rocky Mountain Innosphere, the business incubator organization in Fort Collins.

Among the businesses and organizations donating to the competition are Cenergy, CSU Ventures, Rocky Mountain Innosphere, Ace Hardware, the Downtown Business Association, Otterbox, Miramont Lifestyle Fitness, Odell Brewing Company, and Flexx Productions.

Winning teams enter the lab’s history books with their names engraved on the 1Mpact Challenge Trophy and take away a variety of prizes. For the first time, this year’s winner will be able to bypass the first round of interviews in Cenergy’s annual grant competition. Cenergy is the commercialization arm of the university’s Clean Energy Supercluster, a group of about 150 faculty who are conducting clean and renewable energy research.

Among the rules for Thursday’s event:

• Teams will leverage laboratory expertise in the areas of engines and engine controls, energy systems, energy for development, smart grid and advanced biofuels.
• Teams are allowed to leave campus to collect materials for their entry.
• Teams may make limited materials purchases, but they may also rely on materials in the lab.
• Teams will be able to compete in “mini-challenges” throughout the day with various fun and/or strategic advantage prizes.
• All entries are due at 5:30 p.m. for judging

The Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory has developed solutions to reduce emissions from large industrial engines, supported dozens of companies with new engine technology, made important contributions to basic combustion science, worked to define architectures for the future electric grid, and brought clean energy solutions to the developing world. The lab has pioneered the use of undergraduate students in their research programs, employed hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students from across the university in research and helped to develop a new generation of energy leaders.

Envirofit International and Solix Biofuels are laboratory spin-off companies that have become recognized industry leaders.

Students and staffers will Tweet and blog about the experience throughout the day at eecl.colostate.edu/1mpact or @EnginesLab or #1Mpact. For more information, contact Mac McGoldrick at (970) 217-2095.