Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2020-2021)


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 project involves identifying, designing and prototyping new energy technologies, systems or approaches. Previous teams have focused on island grid resilience and emergency backup power, a folding electric skateboard, alternative refrigeration, the potential of incorporating green building concepts into college dormsalternative use cases for flywheel energy storage and renewable microgrids in South Africa. Other 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 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 outputs are possible, including statistical analysis, mathematical modeling or computer simulation. Ideas for projects will come from students, with input from faculty, companies, organizations or competitions.

Anticipated Outputs

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 2020 – Spring 2021

  • Fall 2020: Select and define projects; form sub-teams
  • Spring 2021: Complete prototypes and evaluation of environmental benefits and viability; submit final report; present results

See related teams, Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2021-2022) and Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2019-2020).


Image: Members of the 2018-19 project team, by Jared Lazarus


Team Leaders

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

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Alessandra Allado
  • Ayooluwa Balogun, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Henry Burns, Physics (BS)
  • Elena Cavallero, Economics (BS)
  • Vanessa Chen
  • Kyra Cooperman
  • Ava Ganeshan
  • William Hess, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Thomas Hessel, Computer Science (AB)
  • Yiwen Jiang, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • James Kim, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Joseph Kochansky
  • Elizabeth Lamb, Political Science (AB), Asian & Mid East Studies (AB2)
  • Rebecca Lau, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Sunny Li, Civil Engineering (BSE)
  • Powell Lowe, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Michael McWilliams, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Franco Picone, Economics (BS), Computer Science (AB2)
  • Annie Roberts, Environmental Sciences (BS)
  • Alison Rosenbaum
  • Maryam Shahid, Physics (BS)
  • Sophia Simms
  • Renata Starostka, Environmental Engineering(BSE)
  • Margaret Sullivan
  • Natasha Von Seelen, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Benjamin Williams, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Jeffrey Zheng, Chemistry (BS)