Student Teams Compete in Finals of Two National Competitions

May 2, 2016

Contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084

DURHAM, N.C. – Student teams from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment recently competed in the finals of two national competitions.

The students who competed are all pursuing Master of Environmental Management (MEM) degrees or MEM/MBA dual degrees.

Hoel Wiesner (MEM), Mike DeNoia (MEM/MBA), Kate Buczek (MEM) and Eleanor Johnstone (MEM) won second place in the Fuel Institute’s 2016 Future of Transportation Case Competition on April 29 in San Francisco.

They were awarded second place and $2,500 for their proposal to use e-vehicle and e-highway technologies to shift America’s transportation system toward a safe, cleaner and more efficient fuel economy within the next 30 years.

Devon Bonney (MEM), Amanda Duggan (MEM/MBA), Andrew Seelaus (MEM/MBA), Xander Kent (MEM/MBA) and Melissa Hodges (MEM) were among eight teams competing in the finals of the Patagonia Case Competition on April 22 in Berkeley, Calif.

Patagonia team Amanda Duggan (left) and Devon Bonney (right)

Their proposal focused on developing an alternative to the chemical-based durable water repellent (DWR) used by manufacturers in rain jackets and other outdoor sportswear.  

“Currently, all outdoor sportswear companies use durable water repellent to waterproof their gear, but it has been shown to wear off and persist in the environment as a biotoxin,” says Duggan.  “DWRs are not a widely recognized issue, and there is little pressure for apparel companies to change their designs or for chemical companies to change their formulas and find new solutions. If our recommendation was implemented it has the potential to generate a new technology with 4-5 years and to develop the first products with that technology within 5-6 years.”

Twenty student teams from 11 universities nationwide competed in the Fuel Institute challenge; 111 teams from more than 30 universities entered the Patagonia Case Competition.