Listed below are challenges currently available for consideration by participating student teams at upcoming Challenge Events.      BACK TO CHALLENGE EVENTS

Agritech

White Space Broadband – Farmers involved in precision agriculture and other agriculture technologies rely on internet access which can be spotty at best.  The challenge is to determine and select a new technology or better application of a  developing technology that improves internet connectivity in the rural regions of Maryland and insures the reliability of increased bandwidth for farmers utilizing technologies in agriculture.

Aquatech

Counting Oysters – Workers involved in oyster aquaculture are looking for a way to automate the counting of oysters.  Oysters collected from cages are packaged  1,000 to a pallet and are currently counted by hand.  The challenge is to develop a process or system that allows for greater efficiency in sorting and packaging oysters other than by hand.

Envirotech

Phosphorus Mitigation – Our company is deploying a patent-pending Combined Remediation Biomass and bio-Product Production (CRBBP) Process to extract excess phosphorus and other problematic substances from soils and waters, which are part of the Chesapeake bay watershed. We currently have approximately 40 acres of Biomass Sorghum planted in three locations in the region.

We have recently learned that the Governor and his administration is very concerned about the phosphorus and other problematic substances, that are in the waters and silt, which are accumulating behind the Conowingo Dam, just before they flow into the Chesapeake Bay. We have just spoken with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), about how our patent-pending CRBBP Process (See attachment) might help, in a very cost-effective way.

Because the water-based version of our CRBBP Process which involves the deployment of our proprietary Floating Bio-Greenhouses (FBG’s), as show in the FBG attachment, has not yet been completely designed and tested, we would a solution as to how best to use and compliment the use our FBG’s to most effectively accomplish the water-based removals, while also thinking through how our soil-based CRBBP Process approach might treat silt that has been dredged from behind the dam.


Live Smart
– Evaluate environmental, social, and economic data to design tools and plan blueprints for smart and connected rural and urban settlements.

Population dynamics, changes in climate, and diversity of available resources all influence the quality of life in urban and rural areas.  Applying innovative techniques and using data creatively to research and plan urban and rural areas will help improve residents’ lives and help preserve social, economic, and environmental resources for future generations.

Your challenge is to plan next-generation sustainable cities, towns, and villages that integrate data and smart/connected technologies in various domains, including energy, education, transportation, agriculture, environment, and health.  Ensure that the benefits of smart planning are accessible to all populations.

This challenge addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to engage all countries and all stakeholders in a collaborative partnership.  The SDGs aim to build a better future for all people by achieving sustainable development in three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in the spirit of strengthened global solidarity:

Goal 1.5: By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

Goal 2.4: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystem, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

Goal 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.

Goal 11.3: By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.

Goal 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate–related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

Considerations:

You can design a high-level plan of smart cities, towns, and villages, or develop tools and ideas that contribute to smart planning and running of these settlements.

Your solution can address any or all of the following topics:

Data collection tools

Data assimilation tools

Application of data to settlement planning

You may:
Design low cost sensors to be distributed around urban and/or rural areas to help observe and respond to local conditions, such as atmospheric processes and their impacts.  For example, consider how atmospheric processes will be affected by changes in climate while planning for sustainable and healthy living.

Explore the impacts of urban heat on health, infrastructure (including transportation and energy), and society.  Design tools for remote sensing observations and modeling, and/or for adaptation and mitigation (for example, building designs with open spaces and green roofs).

Develop low-cost, wireless-enabled, battery-powered sensors to collect and transmit real-time data about other environmental variables, including precipitation, wind, relative humidity, noise, pollution, vibration etc., to compare trends in rural versus urban settlements.  Explore innovative applications for these sensors to benefit science and society.

Additional tips:

Consider the needs of urban versus rural environments when developing tools.  For example, appropriate monitoring of urban environments may necessitate a dense network of sensors making frequent measurements.

Ensure connectivity of tools to share data and allow timely responses.

Give care to design cost-effective and resource-effective tools and plans for greater global impact.

Wood Supply Logistics –  find viable uses for the 800,000 tons of low grade, small diameter wood that is annually discarded throughout Maryland.

Products derived from Maryland forests support $4 billion of economic activity annually. Maryland forests are more productive today than they were 100 years ago, and continue to supply some of the highest quality wood products found anywhere on earth. Today, Maryland forests annually grow about 1.25% more wood than is lost to harvest, natural mortaility or converting forests to development. Yet, Marylanders as a whole consume more than 9x the volume of wood harvested and manufactured.

Furthermore, it’s estimated that over 800,000 tons of wood are literally thrown away each year. This is wood generated by tree trimming, clearing, logging residuals, etc. This wood is typically what remains after the best parts of the trees are seperated and sent to various mills for processing; what remains is typically small diameter, crooked, hollow, or in some other way not usable for lumber or paper manufacture.

Finding a viable use for this portion of the wood supply would solve many problems. The economic contributions could be substantial. And the goal is to find a market use for this material that would offset the costs of generating it. If these materials could be sold and therefore their costs could be recovered, then forest managers would finally be able to tackle the biggest threat to forest health in Maryland which is overcrowding. Simply put, we have too many trees in our forests and the overcrowding is making our forests weak and susceptible to disease and destructive insects, and less productive overall. This is not good for wildlife or our future water supplies, or our economy.

Additional information available on presentation slides

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