Chad Ulven, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will provide expert guidance for a group of eighth graders who are finalists in a national competition.
Eight students from Richland #44 High School in Colfax, North Dakota, recently earned first place for the state of North Dakota in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. In the competition, students use methods based in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, known as “STEAM,” for projects to help solve community problems.
The students, taught by social studies teacher Ben Hannasch, decided to create a renewable drainage tile system using chaff from soybeans. The Richland #44 students will receive $25,000 in Samsung technology as the state winner.
As finalists, the students are required to seek expert input, so they approached Ulven for additional mentoring and technical advice.
“I’m excited to work with these young, energetic minds that want to help address some regional farming practice concerns and have a real impact on their community,” Ulven said. “I plan to share some of my expertise in plastics, composites and processing of materials to help further shape their innovation and goals.”
The NDSU Department of Mechanical Engineering also will make some of its processing and testing equipment available to the students to develop prototypes.
The students entered the competition in October, and submitted an activity plan in early December. They will compete in the national finals in February.
Ulven, who joined the NDSU faculty in 2005, earned his bachelor’s degree at NDSU, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in materials engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
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