A group of Endicott students rose to the challenge and beat top engineering schools like Yale and Cornell at this year’s Hydropower Collegiate Competition, sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and held May 7 through May 9 at Waterpower Week in Washington, D.C.
The hydropower industry is critical to the Biden Administration’s goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. Now in its second year, the competition called on interdisciplinary teams of students to design a concept to solve leading hydropower challenges.
The students presented a year-long project titled “Living with Water, Sustainability and Resiliency in Lawrence, MA,” which won Best Overall and the Case Study Award.
“I congratulate the winners of the 2023 Hydropower Competition … for demonstrating new possibilities for how we can use hydropower and marine energy to help meet our climate and clean energy goals,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “I am excited to see these talented students utilize the real-world experiences and connections they gained through these competitions and hope to see them continue to support our clean energy transition.”
While most of the other competitors offered solutions to technical engineering aspects, the Endicott group provided a solution to an environmental justice issue (including equity and inclusion) based on engineering that was backed by architecture, economics, environmental science, and real community engagement in the city of Lawrence, Mass. Prior to attending the competition, the group presented their findings to the Lawrence community.
The team included engineering majors Leticia Julio ’23 and Julia Cavanaugh ’23, architectural studies majors Thomas Hitchcock ’25, Ceejay Laquerre ’25, and Ko Harmes ’25, marketing major Ryan Archer ’25, and Gavin Emenaker ’24, an applied mathematics major with a minor in computer science.
“It felt scary combining architecture, marketing, and business in a very technical competition, but never for a moment did I doubt the great work and impact of our project in real life and the capacity of each of us,” said Julio.
Julio said all those weekends spent dedicated to the project were worth it when she heard the group’s name called first. (The project was also a senior thesis for Julio and Cavanaugh.)
Cavanaugh said it was incredible to win as “underdogs,” as Endicott is a small school and has an even smaller engineering department.
“This project not only emphasizes the importance of a renewable energy source like hydropower but how it can make an actual difference in the community,” she said.
Students were supported by Endicott staff and faculty from multiple schools, including Associate Dean of Architectural and Design Studies Kevin Renz, Executive Director of the Angle Center for Entrepreneurship Gina Deschamps, and Associate Dean of Science and Technology John Duggan, among others.
“They not only showcased their work, drawing the attention of the energy industry, elected officials, and our engineering peers in academia, but they also displayed what Endicott is all about: working as a team, communicating effectively, focusing on real issues, and solving problems that promote positive change,” said Duggan.
The project is not over, however. The team has been invited to present at the National Hydropower Association’s meeting in July. What’s more, engineering firms and energy investors have approached the students, expressing an interest in the city of Lawrence, its water power, and its future.
The group has also made connections with the City of Lawrence, Greater Lawrence Technical High School, and local organizations. New community engagement projects are now being foreseen.
“It was the best way to put Endicott engineering on the map,” said Julio.
Learn more about the competition.