The 2012 contest marked the 22nd anniversary of the International Design Contest.

Students were challenged to solve six environmental issues:

  1. Open task required the students to identify a real-life environmental, energy or water related issue, and find a solution to that problem. They also had to: indicate the market that their solution would address, design and demonstrate the proposed solution; and discuss the pros and cons of their solution versus current technologies for the issue.
  2. The Solar Power Array task, invited students to developed a  business case that supported the installation and operation of a solar powered array on a conceptual mine tailings storage facility in the southwestern United States. The business case had to focus on the financial justification for the proposed array and the physical justification of such system.
  3. The purpose of The Treatment Technology Validation for Water Softening Technology task was to develop a strategy for evaluating a particular water-treatment product, since numerous water-treatment technologies are marketed to reduce water hardness. While marketing claims are often ambitious, the reality is that some technologies do not live up to the end users’ expectations.
  4. The Product Stewardship in the Cooper Value Chain task was a strategic venture in which the students were required to research and develop a conceptual opportunity for a traditional copper company to participate in production of post-consumer copper. Commercial scale copper recycling programs may require an unattractive cost of production profile compared to traditional mining production. However, copper is a cyclical commodity and it is important to begin to understand the economics of an opportunity that could be implemented feasibly in an attractive product price environment.
  5. The GREEN RO Pretreatment task challenged the teams to develop and demonstrate an alternative to disposable filters or an improved disposable filter design that could last at least four months filtering somewhat turbid feed water. To increase the life of the RO membranes, ideally, the proposed process would address particle size down to 0.1 microns as there are suspended solids that do not pass through the current cartridge filters and foul the RO membranes. Specific consideration was given to technologies that had potential cross-over for inland water desalination application.
  6. The Microhydro Power Generation task challenged the students to develop a pilot system that could determine whether industrial wastewater can be used to create hydroelectric power. The pilot system was required to able to create a minimum of 10kW, but should have also considered a positive return on investment in a 5-year period. The investment should have also included capital outlay, operating costs, as well as tax credits and potential revenue.

Universities from all over the country participated including: Duke University, Harvey Mudd College, Louisiana State University, Michigan Tech, Montana Tech, Northern Arizona University, Ohio University, Roger Williams University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas, University California-Riverside, University of Idaho, University of New Mexico and Utah State University.

Some of the universities were rewarded for their outstanding performance during the contest.

Northern Arizona University earned the judges choice: Greenest Design $500 award for their task five project, as well as Ohio University for task one.

Roger Williams University earned the Second Place award of $1,000 for their project on task five.

The judges’ choice: Best Design Documentation and Paper Award for $500 and McManus award of $1,500 was given to Hannah Chapin from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for task six. University of Arkansas for task five also received a judges’ choice award.

University of Arkansas for their work on task six, University of California-Riverside for task one, and University of New Mexico for task five, earned First Place awards of $2,500 each. The Intel Environmental Innovation Award of $2,500 was awarded to the University of California-Riverside for their work on task one.

The Second Place award of $1,000 was given to the University of Idaho for their work on task three.

The University of Idaho also won the judges’ choice: Most Complete Bench Design award of $500 for their work on task five.

Utah State University won the judges’ choice: Data Driven Design award of $500 for their outstanding work on task five.