Archive for the 'Educational Institutions' Category

Students seek new uses for discarded laptop computers

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 by

Is a laptop computer useless without a hard drive? A group of University of Illinois students doesn’t think so and is exploring new uses for such discarded laptops.

Laptops used by government agencies and various industries typically have their hard drives removed or destroyed before being sent to recycling. This is done out of concern for data of a secretive, sensitive, or personal nature falling into the wrong hands.

With funding provided by Dell, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois is supporting the project entitled “A New Life for Laptops.” The project is being done in conjunction with the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at ISTC. Through this grant, SEI is challenging university researchers and students to envision untapped and underexplored uses for the valuable materials in laptops. The goal is to extend the useful life of these materials prior to recycling.

The project utilizes cross-disciplinary teams of students and research faculty from business, advertising, industrial design, and computer science engineering from the University of Illinois (UIUC) and scientists from ISTC, a division of the Prairie Research Institute.

The research effort is directed by William C. Bullock, Professor of Industrial Design. Others working with the project are Hong Yuan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Business Administration; Brian Lilly, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, Engineering; and Cliff Shin, Associate Professor, Industrial Design. There also will be participation from ISTC research scientists. Graduate and undergraduate students from engineering, marketing, computer science, business, and industrial design will work together as project design team members. There currently are 15 Illinois students working on the project.

“We are focusing on the entrepreneurial use of such laptops,” said Bullock. “We are researching what venture capitalists are doing in this area and looking at the reuse of laptop components.”

The students also are examining the current business model for Dell concerning lifespan of computer components and their use.

“Dell has a recycling program, and it is a good one. What we are looking for is a new vision on how outdated laptops can be used,” said Bullock.

Students got started in the spring semester with the donation of 20 recycled Dell laptops. They were donated by Vintage Tech Recyclers in Romeoville, Illinois. Students will be taking these machines apart in order to experiment with new ideas. Any unused computer parts will be returned for recycling. Final class projects will be presented in May 2012 and results will be posted on the SEI website.

The laptop project will move from a general examination of business and design opportunities to a more detailed focus on one or more specific product opportunities. These will be based on lessons learned and knowledge gained as the research and development progresses. The project will proceed through the three distinct stages during the spring semester. They are:

  • Research – the initial project focus will be on efforts to understand the market and the Dell user needs.
  • Development – the second stage uses insights gained through research in order to create new designs and concepts and present them to Dell for feedback.
  • Finalization –this stage refines concepts addressing materials, technology, and product performance. The final recommendations will be an electronic presentation to Dell.

The students recently had a conference call with Dell officials to discuss the program. The Dell staff members working with the students are Mike Watson, Director of Compliance, and John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist.

Waste from electronic devices is a growing problem around the world. These University of Illinois students hope to offer some possible alternatives to placing old laptops in a landfill.

Submit an environmental project for a team of University of Michigan graduate students to tackle

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by

An appeal from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. It appears that they will accept projects from outside of Michigan.

Every year at the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, approximately 20-25 interdisciplinary teams of master’s students tackle real world environmental projects with a professional client organization. If you have a potential project idea, we encourage you to consider submitting it.

WHAT IS A MASTER’S PROJECT?
Master’s projects are 12-15 month long (begin in March and most are typically completed by the following April) problem-solving experiences conducted by interdisciplinary teams of SNRE Master’s degree students as the capstone of their academic program at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. Projects provide students with a team experience that approximates a future work environment while also providing client organizations with solutions to complex environmental issues and useful products. Clients and faculty advisors provide feedback along the way.

WHY SUBMIT A PROJECT IDEA?
It’s a chance to get an interdisciplinary team of master’s students to tackle an environmental issue of importance to your organization while providing them with a real-world problem solving learning experience.

A FEW EXAMPLES OF RECENT PROJECTS:

  • Climate Change Adaptation in Great Lakes Cities
  • Building a Sustainable Community in Africa
  • Assisting a tribal community with business planning and forestland acquisition
  • Green Brewery project

See more project examples here:  http://snre.umich.edu/current_students/masters_projects/masters_archives

HOT MASTER’S PROJECT TOPICS:
This list was generated from looking at the last several years of master’s project topics that were selected by SNRE student teams.  We encourage you to submit project ideas that especially focus on these general topic areas but other topic ideas are certainly welcome.  Feel free to contact Lisa to discuss your project idea.Renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal)

  1. Ecosystem/ biodiversity conservation/ restoration
  2. Sustainable agriculture/ food
  3. Ecosystem services (ex: forests as carbon sinks, wetlands as water pollution filters, etc.)
  4. Freshwater (river/ lake) ecosystem conservation
  5. Sustainable urban communities
  6. Corporate sustainability
  7. Sustainable energy financing
  8. Great Lakes
  9. Sustainable transportation
  10. Projects assisting vulnerable populations/communities
  11. Influencing environmental behavior
  12. Climate change adaptation
  13. Creating sustainable design futures
  14. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
  15. Environmental policy
  16. Climate change mitigation
  17. Ecotourism

Some additional themes identified by students (in the recent student survey) include: international projects—especially in developing nations, sustainability in healthcare, and energy efficiency.

WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING STUDENTS WITH DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES ON THESE PROJECTS?
A Master’s project is an academic learning experience that encourages SNRE students to work in interdisciplinary teams.  For example, a policy student may work on a team with GIS mapping and sustainable system business students on a wind energy project assessing policy, geographic and economic feasibility issues.  We encourage projects to include at least 2-3 different fields of study to prepare our students for real-world project teams at NGOs, consulting firms, agencies, and companies addressing cutting edge environmental challenges.  Click here to see examples of master’s projects.  Be sure to see how different fields of study were incorporated into each project.

HOW TO SUBMIT A MASTER’S PROJECT IDEA:

Priority Deadline: November 1st (projects submitted by this date have a higher chance of being selected)
Final Deadline: December 13th

Questions? Contact Lisa Yee-Litzenberg, Email: yeeha@umich.edu or Ph: 734-615-1633

Environmental Education Toolkits

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 by

Hennepin County Environmental Services has developed a series of environmental education toolkits targeting specific audiences. The toolkits include:

  • Critical facts and background information on current environmental issues
  • Low to no cost activity ideas that require minimal planning
  • Project ideas that encourage youth leadership and initiative
  • Service learning project ideas
  • Field trip recommendations
  • Interactive online and print resources for youth

Download each guide:

For more information about environmental education and pollution prevention in K-12 schools,  colleges, and universities, see GLRPPR’s Educational Institutions sector resource.

Deadline Extended for International E-Waste Design Competition

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 by

International E-Waste Design Competition LogoThere’s still time to submit entries for the 2011 International E-Waste Design Competition. The deadline has been extended to 4:59 p.m. CT, May 9, 2011. College students and recent graduates from around the world submit ideas for reusing e-waste to create new and useful products, or for preventing its generation in the first place (e.g. by re-designing an existing electronic device to facilitate reuse or otherwise extend the product life cycle). Entries include, among other elements, a video uploaded to YouTube highlighting the proposed design idea. Six winning teams or individuals (three in each of two categories) will receive monetary prizes. The competition is part of the educational component of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI; www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu). For more information and online registration, see www.ewaste.illinois.edu, or contact Joy Scrogum at jscrogum@istc.illinois.edu or 217-333-8948.

Greening Gym Class

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 by

It’s a cliche, but things sure have changed since when I was in school. As I mentioned previously, my daughter recently started kindergarten. In addition to recess, which one would expect, she actually has physical education (P.E.) every third day (alternated with music and art classes). I’m pleased she’s being kept active, but surprised to be thinking about gym class quite so soon. In the midst of watching her explore the brave new word of P.E., I received an e-mail inquiry regarding the Greening Schools web site. This was a joint project of the Illinois EPA and GLRPPR’s parent organization, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC, formerly WMRC), which is unfortunately no longer funded (please e-mail me any ideas regarding funding sources to maintain and expand this site). The inquirer was interested in greener lesson plans geared toward P.E. I’ve seen resources related to greening athletic facilities, but the idea of actually greening the P.E. curriculum was an interesting twist to me, so I decided to share some of the resources I provided in response here. In this post I’ll discuss both resources for more sustainable P.E. facilities as well as curricula.

Click here to read the rest of the article

There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch–Waste Free, That Is

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 by

Laptop Lunch Box

My daughter started kindergarten last week and next week my son is off to preschool for the first time. We’ll all look back on these days fondly sometime in the future, but for now, I’m having some typical Mommy back-to-school blues. In the interest of combating those blues, I decided to focus on some greens–specifically in the form of green tips related to schools and students. In this post I’ll discuss how to reduce waste associated with school lunches; look for more discussions on green ideas and examples for K-12 and beyond in the days to come.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Spotlight: Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute

Thursday, June 4th, 2009 by

Continuing our focus on Indiana P2 programs, the Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), based at Purdue University, provides technical assistance, outreach, education, planning services and research to facilitate the adoption of pollution prevention/clean manufacturing strategies by Indiana manufacturing facilities.

CMTI offers assistance in all manufacturing sectors, but has special expertise in plastics (including fiber reinforced plastic), wood products, metal finishing, metal and plastic coatings, foundries and motor vehicle parts manufacturing.

CMTI co-founded (in 1996), and continues to manage, the Coating Applications Research Laboratory (CARL) on the Purdue campus. The lab allows manufacturers to test state-of-the-art coating and curing technologies under the guidance of CMTI engineers expert in their application. CMTI also offers ISO14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS) services businesses and government entities. Training and energy efficiency assessments are also provided by CMTI.

Check out the CMTI web site for an archive of Technology Transfer/Pollution Prevention Case Studies. You can also browse the CMTI Clearinghouse Bibliography online.

Spotlight: Partners for Pollution Prevention

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 by

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2009 GLRPPR/Region 7 Conference, which will be held in Indianapolis, IN June 3-5. In honor of the host state for our conference, we’ll be featuring pollution prevention programs this week that call the great state of Indiana home. Today’s spotlight is on the Partners for Pollution Prevention (P4P2).

Organized by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in 1996, the purpose of P4P2 is to assist industry in sharing pollution prevention successes and to advise IDEM on pollution prevention policy and programs. The Partners represent industry, government, academia and environmental organizations interested in advancing pollution prevention in Indiana, as well as the financial and environmental benefits P2 projects can bring.

According to the program website, there are currently 55 Partners, many of which have received the Indiana Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The benefits of being a Partner include, among other things, exchanging information on P2 technologies and successes with your peers, being recognized statewide for your P2 efforts and potentially having your P2 projects promoted in IDEM publications.

If you are interested in applying for membership to P4P2, or would like more information, contact IDEM’s Office of Pollution Prevention & Technical Assistance at 800-988-7901 or 317-233-6662. Becoming a member involves committing to the Partners Pledge. New Partners are inducted at quarterly meetings, and Partners are required to complete the annual recertification to share P2 success stories and data.

Check out the Partners Activity page for copies of reports and presentations given at quarterly meetings.  Another major activity for the  Partners is the organization of the Annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show.

Illinois Governor Signs Executive Order to Reduce Goverment Operations Impact

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by

On Earth Day, Governor Pat Quinn signed Exeuctive Order 11. This Executive Order covers the topics of Waste Prevention, Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Water Quality and Conservation, Sustainable Transportation, plus Education and Outreach. The Green Government Coordinating Council is responsible for the implementation of this Executive Order. The P2 Programs at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (on behalf of the University of Illinois) were involved in crafting the Executive Order and will be involved in overseeing the progress of the Order throughout state government, as well as colleges and universities in Illinois. To read the entire Executive Order visit http://www.glrppr.org/docs/GOVExecutiveOrder11.pdf.

April 2009 Site of the Month: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The information on the site is meant to be applied to sites both with and without buildings, including, but not limited to:

  • Open spaces such as local, state and national parks, conservation easements and buffer zones and transportation rights-of-way.
  • Sites with buildings including industrial, retail and office parks, military complexes, airports, botanical gardens, streetscapes and plazas, residential and commercial developments and public and private campuses.

The Initiative site provides a copy of the report Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks – Draft 2008, which focuses on measuring how a site can protect, restore and regenerate ecosystem services – benefits provided by natural ecosystems such as cleaning air and water, climate regulation and human health benefits. This report contains over 50 draft prerequisites and credits that cover all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance.

Case studies, dates for upcoming presentations on sustainable sites, and information on the Initiative’s areas of focus (Why Sustainable Sites?; Hydrology; Soils; Vegetation; Materials; and Human Health & Well-being) are also provided.