Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2018-2019)


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 involves identifying, designing and prototyping new energy technologies, systems or approaches. Last year’s team focused on the potential of incorporating green building concepts into college dorms; alternative use cases for flywheel energy storage; and renewable microgrids in South Africa. Previous projects have included a strategy proposal for encouraging growth in the hydrogen economy, a human-powered bicycle to filter urban water systems, electric and solar-powered vehicles, 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 (physical or conceptual) and accompanying evaluation of environmental and social benefits, target market and basic business plan; presentation of results in the form of poster session as well as class presentations and final report


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019 

  • Fall 2018: Select and define projects; form sub-teams
  • Spring 2019: Complete prototypes and evaluation of environmental benefits and viability; submit final report; present results

Team Outcomes to Date

DUKEPOOL: Reducing Student Emissions through a Mobile Carpooling App (poster by JAiden Muhr, Audrey McManemin, Francois Chabaneix, Pranav Lakhina, Sofie Alabaster, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Storm Energy: A Solution (poster by John Sittu, Nimisha Pant, Nicholas Saba, Emily Walker, BJ James, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Harvesting Wind Energy from Kites (poster by Julia Dworetzky, Uriel Salazar Angelini, Rebecca Schmitt, Meredith Short, Trevyn Toone, Chris Van Buren, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

This Team in the News

Here’s How Seniors Do Energy

Meet the Members of the 2018-19 Student Advisory Council

See related teams, Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2019-2020) and Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2017-2018).

Bass Connections team outcomes

Team Leaders

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

/graduate Team Members

  • Pranav Lakhina, Master of Engineering Mgmt-MEG
  • Wenjie Zhao, Master of Engineering Mgmt-MEG

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sofie Alabaster, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
  • Francois Chabaneix, Economics (BS)
  • Julia Dworetzky, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Henry James, Political Science (AB)
  • Prithvir Jhaveri , Computer Science (BS)
  • Audrey McManemin, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Aiden Muhr, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • Nimisha Pant
  • Vincent Peng
  • Nicholas Saba
  • Uriel Salazar, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Meredith Short, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • John Sittu, Environmental Sciences (BS)
  • Trevyn Toone, Biology (BS), Earth & Ocean Sciences (AB2)
  • Peter Van Buren
  • Emily Walker, Civil Engineering (BSE)