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Clarkson University students are getting hands-on experience and learning about the structural mechanics of paper products, liquid penetration resistance and developing energy efficient processes as they prepare their paper kayak for Energy Challenge '99.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (IPST) and the pulp and paper industry, Energy Challenge '99 involves college teams designing, constructing and racing a one-person kayak made exclusively from paper products. Paper products can include wood fiber, wood pulp, secondary wood cellulose, linerboard, corrugated board and commonly used paper chemicals. Teams must also design the kayak to meet size specifications of no more than nine feet long, 2.5 feet wide and 35 pounds in weight. 

Clarkson is one of eight colleges that recently received a $2,000 "start up" grant to assist with funding their project. The competition will be held May 22 at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Atlanta, Ga. The $15,000 top prize will be based on written reports, safety considerations, meeting size and weight specifications and kayak performance during the timed race held at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

The purpose of Energy Challenge '99 is to foster education and awareness of pulp and paper industrial processes, manufacturing design efficiency, recycling, waste minimization, liquid penetration resistance, wet strength and the environmental impact considerations of paper design.

The teams will also get a lesson in creativity, innovation, resourcefulness, teamwork, fundraising and overall project management. The competition correlates with the Department of Energy's Agenda 2020 -- a program to enhance the economic competitiveness of the U.S. forest products industry and to help the pulp and paper industry reach the vision of more energy efficient manufacturing processes in the year 2020.

 "We are very pleased to host this program which focuses the resources of industry, government, and our academic institutions on the critical national need for energy efficient manufacturing processes," said IPST President Dr. Jim Ferris.  "While the contest itself is an event, the teams learn and visibly demonstrate a process for designing energy-efficient products.  These skills and experiences move with them into the industry as they begin their careers."“It has definitely been a challenge for the Clarkson students who are involved in DOE's Energy Challenge Competition,” said Tina C. Yuille, project coordinator of Clarkson’s SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) Program. “Clarkson does not have a paper science and technology program.  I am quite impressed with the level of initiative that Clarkson's team has taken in order to get themselves up to speed to compete against other students with a more formal background in paper science and technologies. At the completion of the one-person paper kayak project, these students will have gained an extraordinary level of peripheral knowledge and learned that anything is possible once you put your mind to it.” 

Joining Clarkson in competing in Energy Challenge '99 are University of Colorado at Denver, Georgia Tech, Maine, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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