Wu-Chen team wins ACSE Sustainable Development Award

Photo of Wu-Chen research team
Wu-Chen multidisciplinary team at ACSE (back, l to r): Unmesha Kale &
Wenzhuo Wu; (front, l to r) Wentao Zhong & Ruoxing Wang
Photo of Wenzhuo Wu at ASCE
Prof. Wu explaining the project to visitors
A multidisciplinary engineering student research team won the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Sustainable Development Award for a project to aid farmers in Central Africa.

The team, led by Wenzhuo Wu, assistant professor of industrial engineering, and Jun Chen, associate professor of mechanical engineering, won the 2018 ASCE Sustainable Development Award at the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Sustainable Design Expo. The first-place Purdue team included Ruoxing Wang, doctoral candidate in industrial engineering; Unmesha U. Kale, a senior in electrical and computer engineering; and Wentao Zhong, a junior in mechanical engineering.

Their project is titled “Development of an Economic Grain Storage System for Rain Season Harvest in Rural Africa.” Wu and the team developed a device that harnesses the energy created when a raindrop strikes a roof and converts it into electricity. The electricity can then be used to temperature-control grain storage facilities, thereby saving the crop.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program features a college competition in two parts. Selected student teams are given grants during the school year to develop proposals for solutions toward a sustainable future. They then bring their designs to the design expo in Washington, DC, as part of the USA Science and Engineering Festival, to compete for the P3 award and a further grant.

The ASCE Sustainable Development Award, sponsored by the Society’s Committee on Sustainability, bestows $1,000 on a student team for a project that solves a pressing need in a developing country, based on the project’s simplicity of design, its use of local raw materials, and its widespread effect on quality of life in that region.


This project assists decision-makers to considering new local resources for addressing global food insecurity. The team is developing a system powered by solar and hydroenergy for storing harvested grains during rainy seasons in rural regions of Africa. This system can be implemented in domestic rural areas facing similar situations during harvest season. Grain processing can be an environmentally taxing procedure and this new storage system can improve air quality by reducing the gas emissions typically released during conventional grain processing.

More: Wu-Chen team receives EPA grant

Writer: DeEtte Starr, starrd@purdue.edu

Related Link: http://news.asce.org/asce-awards-purdue-student-team-for-project-to-aid-farming-in-central-africa/