TUSKEGEE, Ala. (December 12, 2013) — Two Tuskegee University chemical engineering students have won second place in the first Ford HBCU Community Challenge. Held last week at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., the competition encouraged students to submit proposals to address their local community’s most pressing needs.
Stringer and Ware
Dozens of proposals were submitted. Finalists from four institutions were chosen - Fayetteville State University, Howard University, Huston-Tillotson University and Tuskegee. The challenge partnered with the Tom Joyner and Rickey Smiley morning shows, alumnus Tom Joyner was one of the judging panelists.
Separated and studying in different countries, Phillip Stringer and Ashley Ware collaborated with two organizations, Brilliant Changes, Inc. and College Go Green, to earn $10,000 from the Ford Motor Company Fund.
“College Go Green is an organization to bring awareness to college students about better environmental practices,” Stringer said. “I've spent about 30 weeks abroad in Brazil, Africa, Costa Rica, and Panama studying environmental impact and social development. With College Go Green, I share the information I've learn with the community.”
The prize will be used to implement Tuskegee Biogas Technology (TBT). The aim of the project is to create biogas, a renewable energy source created from decaying organic waste using anaerobic digesters. Biogas is made mostly of methane and can be used to generate electricity. The team said they wanted to bring this technology to the community to help alleviate energy costs and promote people making more eco-conscious decisions.
Honors Carver and Washington’s legacy
The TBT project stems from the principles of George Washington Carver and his “chemurgy” movement. This movement deals with industrial utilization of organic raw materials. The project incorporated educational, economic and sustainable agricultural development.
"I believe this project is a great opportunity for the Tuskegee students to reach back to the roots of Mother Tuskegee,” said Ware, a junior from New Orleans. “TBT not only serves as an unconventional classroom for students, but it gives the community a chance to grow in a simple, yet completely organic way. It's imperative that we uplift our community as it uplifts us."
Their lead faculty adviser was Nosa Egiebor, professor of chemical engineering and environmental science. The team developed a platform meant to honor the legacies of both Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.
“It was an honor to present our ideas in front of a panel of judges that lead such a large company like Ford,” said Stringer, a junior major in chemical engineering and environmental science. “I look forward to working with Brilliant Changes and using the award money to make an impact in our community.”
Founded by Brent Craige, a junior hospitality management major from New Orleans, Brilliant Changes, Inc. is grounded in Washington’s interactive education principles. Craige said the organization seeks to incorporate students back into the direct development of the economy and build rural communities using innovative planning and execution.
"I sum up the project with Brilliant Changes, Inc. in three simple words: people helping people. This project will be the bridge that finally connects the campus and community,” Craige said.