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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture March Madness for the Mind

WSU Students Participate in March Madness for the Mind

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009

PULLMAN, Wash.—A group of current and former Washington State University students have been selected to participate in March Madness for the Mind.

Sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), the event is a “celebration of student E-Team innovation and entrepreneurship,” according to the group’s website. Each year, select groups of students who have received NCIIA support for entrepreneurial projects from universities around the U.S. are invited to showcase their work during the group’s annual meeting. The event will be held at Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of American History on Friday, March 20.

Earlier this year, the WSU students applied to form Developing World Technologies, a non-profit organization that aims to “develop and facilitate the distribution of culturally relevant, life-changing technologies in developing countries,” according to the group’s mission. The group has focused on designing human-powered irrigation pumps for farmers in developing countries with the idea of increasing farming productivity.

Their product, the WaterCycle, is a continuation of several earlier iterations of student senior design projects as students have worked to solve engineering, communications and logistical challenges of providing their product in Malawi, the third poorest country in the world.

The bicycle-powered irrigation pump is easy-to-use, durable, affordable and easily transported. Current and former students involved in Developing World Technologies include Angel Hall (bioengineering, ‘09), Brendan Dallas, (mechanical engineering, ‘08), Cory Cole (bioengineering, ‘08) and Cameron Wheeler (mechanical engineering, ‘09). Other alumni participating on the board of directors are Travis Meyer (bioengineering ‘06) and Kyle Kramer (bioengineering ‘06), who were on the first team to visit Malawi.

“Our motivation isn’t to ‘get rich,” said Dallas. “It is a passion to follow a vision and to help people. That vision really materialized during our two-week excursion in Malawi.”

The group hopes to start selling their bicycle-powered irrigation pump by this November. They also hope to develop their product so that it can be locally built and assembled in the regions where it will be used. They will be partnering with the WSU student chapter of Engineers Without Borders on future projects and on testing current designs.

At the NCIIA conference, Howard Davis, clinical assistant professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Bob Olsen, associate dean for undergraduate programs and student services in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, will also be presenting papers on innovations in teaching technical entrepreneurship.