Students Find Gold in First E-waste Design Competition at Illinois

Released: 4/21/2009 3:30 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Newswise — Two very different types of kiosks fashioned from recycled electronics took top honors in their respective categories in the first Sustainable E-waste Design Competition on April 16 at the University of Illinois.

The first, which won the Gold Award in the "artist/designer" category, is a compact "tourist kiosk" designed to be a quick, convenient means of delivering visitor information. The kiosks could be placed on street corners, in malls or other locations for use by tourists seeking information regarding restaurants, lodging and local attractions.

Fabricated from reused steel computer cases, the kiosk uses a salvaged CRT monitor, as well as the motherboard and hard drives from computers that might otherwise have been junked in a landfill. Navigation buttons are made from discarded computer mice and keyboard components. The kiosks could be plugged into city power grids, with access through lamp posts.

Members of the winning design team are Dave Cervantes, Blue Island, Ill.; David Goldman, Lincolnwood, Ill.; Bart Liang, Springfield, Mo.; and Teddy Lu, Lombard, Ill.

Winning the Gold Award in the "technical/geek" category was an innovative project designed not only to repurpose potential e-waste, but also to build community and encourage people to recycle everyday consumer waste such as bottles, cans and paper.

Project designers suggest their "recycling kiosk" could be placed in campus residence halls, multi-unit apartment buildings or other locations that don't already have easy access to existing recycling programs. To encourage use, the students designed the kiosk " which includes a receptacle for collecting waste materials " to include a built-in incentive/credit program. For instance, discount coupons from area businesses could be exchanged for refuse, rewarding depositors for volume and frequency of use.

Because the kiosk uses simple applications, the station can be powered by an older computer, or even a USB drive. In addition to the computer, the recycling kiosk incorporates an old desk and plywood scraps salvaged from on campus.

The project designers are Kevin Bayci; Joliet, Ill.; Emily Carroll, Arlington Heights, Ill.; Tom Herbert, Wheaton, Ill.; Aarti Jayanth, Buffalo Grove, Ill.; and Brett Phillips, Lake Zurich, Ill.

Bayci and Phillips said the prototype model will get its first weeklong test drive beginning April 19 at the university's Illinois Street Residence Halls.

The design competition also included Silver and Bronze awards in both categories, as well as several honorable mention awards. Those projects and designers will be listed soon on the competition Web site.

Eighty-one students from various disciplines, divided into 21 teams, competed in the contest, which awarded $15,000 in tuition support and other prizes. Team members winning Gold Awards divided $3,500 in tuition credit; Silver, $2,500; Bronze, $1,500.

Competition judges included representatives from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center; Chicago's Center for Neighborhood Technology; Dell Inc.; Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Bureau of Energy and Recycling; Microsoft Corp.; Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and West Monroe Partners LLC, Chicago.

The competition was organized in conjunction with a U. of I. course, taught by industrial design professor William Bullock, which focused on the environmental impact of e-waste, which includes computers, printers and other peripherals, as well as televisions, cell phones and various electronic components. Students in the class have explored a variety of design solutions proposed to solve problems related to a worldwide proliferation of e-waste.

"It's been a wonderful experience," Bullock said, referring to the competition. "We hope to take this to the international level next year with other universities participating.

"The credit really goes to the students, who showed what we can do with this stuff so it doesn't wind up on the trash heap."


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