Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2017-2018)


To explore the breadth of issues that confront our society in its need for clean, affordable and reliable energy, students partner with faculty on a year-long project resulting in prototypes of new energy technologies, systems or approaches.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project team involves identifying, designing and prototyping new energy technologies, systems or approaches. The 2016-2017 projects included The Hydrogen Economy: A Strategy Proposal for Encouraging Growth; Healthy Harbor: A Human-powered Bicycle to Filter Urban Water Systems; and Electric Vehicle (as part of an ongoing Duke electric vehicle prototype competition). Earlier projects have included a solar-powered vehicle, a biogas-powered generator and a green emergency power system.

Sub-teams will address the tradeoffs among technological design choices, environmental impacts, economic viability and other issues related to use. The goal of the project is to produce a useful prototype and evaluate its environmental benefits and viability. Projects will be selected and defined during the fall semester and completed during the spring semester.

While some sub-teams may concentrate on building a physical prototype, alternatives that include statistical analysis, mathematical modeling or computer simulation are also possible. Ideas for projects will come from students, with input from faculty, companies, organizations or competitions.

Anticipated Outcomes

Prototypes and accompanying evaluation of environmental benefits and viability; final reports; presentations of results


Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

  • Fall 2017: Select and define projects; form sub-teams
  • Spring 2018: Complete prototypes and evaluation of environmental benefits and viability; submit final report; present results

Team Outcomes to Date

Island Grid Resilience and Emergency Backup Power (poster by Taylor Charbonnet, Assanatou Cissé, Imani Dorsey, Melissa French, Dylan Kaiser, Meryl McCurry), presented at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018

This Team in the News

Duke Seniors Share What Was Most Meaningful about Their Bass Connections Experiences

See related teams, Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2018-2019) and Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2016-2017).

Josiah Knight and Duke students

/faculty/staff Team Members

  • Emily Klein, Nicholas School of the Environment-Earth and Ocean Sciences*
  • Josiah Knight, Pratt School of Engineering-Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science*

/graduate Team Members

  • Ananya Chaurey, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment
  • Assanatou Mahamadou Cisse, Master of Engineering Mgmt-DME

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Jie Cai, Statistical Science (AB)
  • John Charbonnet, Economics (AB)
  • Chad Curd, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Tara Davis, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Imani Dorsey, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • John Forlines, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Melissa French, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Cole Hattler, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BS2)
  • Ismail Iberkak, Mechanical Engineering (BSE), Environmental Engineering BSE2
  • Dylan Kaiser, Civil Engineering (BSE)
  • Philemon Kiptoo, Civil Engineering (BSE)
  • Katelyn McCracken, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Meryl McCurry, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Narendran Narasimhan, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Maya Patel, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Samuel Pickerill, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)