Over the July College break, students James Orman and Alec Parkes travelled to New York for the final of the Spellman High Voltage Clean Tech Competition. The worldwide competition is an international research and design challenge for 15-18-year-old pre-university students. The 2018 challenge set to students across the globe was to ‘solve climate change.’ The solution James and Alec presented was selected from over 600 entries and made the top ten for the final, as well as being the only team from Australia to be selected.
James and Alec’s presentation and solution model were highly regarded by the panel of judges, with the boys finishing in 4th place. With only 4 points between 4th place and 1st, their achievement is tremendous, and the College is immensely proud of the boys’ success on the world stage.
The premise of the boys’ solution to climate change was to actively tie-up carbon dioxide emissions through existing fossil fuelled power plants as lithium carbonate, a useful substance used in metal processing and in the health industry. This solution would be an interim measure until alternate energy sources adequately reduce our carbon footprint to a sustainable level.
Science teacher Mr Peter Ryan said that James and Alec worked through the April school holidays testing their theory. “They demonstrated their theory through testing in our laboratory by scrubbing carbon dioxide through lithium hydroxide and producing lithium carbonate. Those results formed a cornerstone of their submission,” Mr Ryan said.
Regarding the outstanding calibre of the teams represented at the competition, James said, “One team had been working on reducing water loss in farmland and increasing crop production for 3 years,” he continued, “The amount of effort and determination that had gone into these prototypes and presentations was just phenomenal.”
Describing the competition process, James recounted, “The day of the competition started with all of the teams setting up their prototypes in a communal area, where we were all able to see and question each other. The other teams were all very friendly and eager to share their ideas, and just as eager to listen to the others.”
“Each team was called individually into a separate room to present our prototypes to a panel of three judges. After that had finished, each team was able to do a brief presentation to a separate, shark-tank-esque panel of people from the university who gave some advice about how we could develop our ideas for further implementation and offered some suggestions as to solutions to problems that we could face along the way,” James said.
College Principal Mr Glenn McConville said that while the trip was a busy one, “It really was an opportunity of a lifetime and one the boys will not forget anytime soon.”
The College would like to sincerely thank our wonderful sponsors who made this trip of a lifetime for our students possible. Thanks go to Brisbane Catholic Education, The University of Queensland (Faculty of Engineering, Architecture & Information Technology), Mt Maria Parent & Friends, Cleanworks, Gaythorne RSL Sub-Branch, Lions Club of Brisbane Bunya and Member for Everton, Tim Mander.