The team plans to use their funding to purchase new materials to test the structural integrity of their prototype. Some team members will be traveling to Vietnam in August to collect data and test their prototype.

Monitoring water quality for shrimp farming

The Vietnam Sustainable Shrimp Farming team tied for third place, earning $1,000 in funding. This team partners with Alex Downs, a subject matter expert living in Vietnam, to decrease the mismanagement of aquaculture, specifically shrimp farming.

Poor water quality is a detrimental issue in shrimp farming. Many farmers’ livelihood is based on the successful harvest of their shrimp, and it can bankrupt families if shrimps are diseased because the whole pond they live in must be discarded.

The team is creating a floating device that connects to a smartphone app to alert farmers when there are changes in their pond’s water chemistry. The team said, “It is central to our project to ensure we do not encroach upon their livelihoods and their knowledge of the industry; we would like to respect their experience as farmers, which is an experience that almost none of the current team members have.”

The Vietnam Sustainable Shrimp Farming team strives to give shrimp farmers a tool to allow them to more rapidly react to changing water chemistry. They will be sending several team members to Vietnam in August to see firsthand how their design is working and learn how they could alter it to further benefit the farmers.

The Navajo Mountain Bike Initiative also earned third place and $1,000 in funding. Partnering with Engineers Without Borders, this EPICS team is building a mountain bike circuit trail, also known as a bike pump track, and other bike trails for the Navajo Nation. The team and their community partner are building them on Navajo K-12 school campuses so that they will be available to the students as part of the schools’ physical education program. 

The team works with the people of the Navajo Nation to understand their culture and the best opportunities to implement solutions. The cross-country mountain bike trails the team is working on are intended to be the engine for economic development. These trails can be from point to point or in loops. A loop trail might be 1 to 5 miles, whereas point-to-point trails could be up to 15 or 20 miles long.

Such low-impact economic development would enable Navajo residents to live and work on the reservation instead of leaving to find work. The trails are intended to promote tourism and bring in money through parking fees, lodging, food and other sources. They have also received bike and helmet donations from REI.

The team has a trip planned in the fall to bring these bikes and helmets to the community, and they are hoping to start working on their Shonto bike trail next semester. They plan to focus their funding on building bike trails because it is something that will bring in greater income opportunities to the community and be sustainable over time.

Lauren Kobley

Student writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering