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Clarkson Remediation Engineers Team Wins Second Place At National Competition

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at]

A team of Clarkson University students took home a top award at the 14th Annual Environmental Design Contest held April 4-8 on the campus of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.

The Clarkson University Remediation Engineers (CURE) team received second place and a cash prize for a treatment technology they developed to remove perchlorate from small water delivery and domestic water systems. Kevin Hickey, Deanna St. Onge & Michael Cooper

Perchlorate is a soluble anion that gets into drinking water from the dissolution of the solid salts of ammonium, potassium and sodium perchlorate used in the manufacturing of solid propellant for rockets, missiles, and fireworks. It has been detected in the drinking water of 14 states, primarily in the southwest.

“The students found a cost effective, practical solution for perchlorate removal from drinking water,” said Tom Holsen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and a team advisor. “They did a wonderful job of tackling the problem and coming up with a workable solution that addressed scientific, health, safety, and community acceptance issues.”

Sponsored by WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development, the contest challenges student teams to provide solutions to environmental problems that have been submitted by private industry and government agencies. Students must submit written reports, make oral presentations, and develop bench-scale models to demonstrate their solutions.

This is the 12th consecutive year the Clarkson CURE team participated in the international contest and the team has consistently received top honors and numerous first-place prizes for innovation and effective solutions. This year, Clarkson was one of 20 collegiate teams from the U.S., Canada and Mexico that competed in the contest, which included cash awards and travel allowances exceeding $75,000. Representatives of academic, government and industry served as judges.

Participating students included seniors Michelle Burt (Rutland, Vt.), Michael Cooper (Ontario, N.Y.), Kevin Kenyon (Nedrow, N.Y.), and Deanna St. Onge (Greene, Maine); and junior Kevin Hickey (Clifton Park, N.Y.).

Working with Holsen and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Andrea Ferro, the students investigated eight alternative treatment technologies to remove the perchlorate. The criteria used to select the best technology were effectiveness, cost, treatment time, by-products, ease of use, and maintenance requirements.

After careful consideration, the students chose a point-of-use water treatment system with reverse osmosis and a granulated activated carbon filter. The device treats only water intended for consumption since this is the only important route of exposure.

CURE is one of the University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) programs, which promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities. SPEED projects involve more than 250 undergraduates annually in engineering design and analysis, fabrication, and the enhancement of professional competencies such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communication skills. The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives promoting the “Vision of a Clarkson Education” through experiential learning by hands-on application of academic theory to real-world problems.

SPEED receives its primary financial support from Alcoa, Corning, Eastman Kodak, the General Electric Fund, and Procter & Gamble. SPEED was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Clarkson University Remediation Engineers (CURE) team recently traveled to New Mexico and captured second place at an international collegiate competition that challenges students to develop solutions to environmental problems. Clarkson CURE members (L-R) junior Kevin Hickey and seniors Deanna St. Onge and Michael Cooper prepare to demonstrate the treatment technology they developed to remove perchlorate from drinking water.

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

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