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UT student engineering teams win 2 first places in international competition

UT student engineering teams win 2 first places in international competition

Posted: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 9:05 pm

KNOXVILLE — Two student engineering teams from the UT Institute of Agriculture’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) captured first place in their respective competitions at a recent international meeting.
The student teams from UT’s Biosystems Engineering and Soil Sciences department won first place for a dual solar roof design and a cryogenic sprayer at the international meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) held this month in Pittsburgh.
The team of seniors, Adam Duncan, Lori Gibson, Alex McLemore and Rebecca Messer took first place in the national AGCO (Allis-Gleaner Corporation) Design Competition for their work on a cryogenic sprayer. Dr. William Hart, Biosystems Engineering associate professor, and Dr. Greg Armel, Plant Sciences assistant professor, worked as the team’s advisors.
The sprayer applies liquid nitrogen to partially freeze weeds. A mechanical roller is then used to crush them. The students designed the system to address limitations associated with current organic weeding methods. Partially freezing weeds for removal results in minimal soil disturbance and lower labor costs.
“This design has potential to make sustainable agriculture more productive and economical while protecting the environment,” said Dr. Hart. “Their effort is a perfect example of using problem-solving tools to tackle a real-world problem, which is exactly what our Senior Design Sequence is supposed to do.”
Meanwhile, the team of seniors Warren Edmunds, Mark Newlin and J.D. White won first place for a dual solar roof project in the National Gunlogson Environmental Design Competition.
The dual solar roof not only absorbs sunlight to make electricity, but it also collects warm air passing beneath the panels. The air can then be used to heat water or directly heat a house.
“Solar radiation is a largely unused resource, especially on a sunny day when you can produce up to a thousand watts per meter squared,” said UT Biosystems Engineering student J.D. White. “So that’s a thousand watt light bulb for every three foot by three foot section on a roof.”
The team’s advisor, Dr. John Tyner, associate professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, says that this could be a roof on many houses in the near future and is an affordable technology. “This is not far-fetched. They built the project with a $3,000 budget. The lumber was recycled from a previous structure, but everything else they built was for $3,000. So it’s a pretty economical way to go. The solar panels just keep getting cheaper and cheaper,” he said.
Published in The Messenger 7.7.10

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