The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has compiled a list of 14 “Grand Challenges” that must be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable, economically robust, and politically stable future. These challenges range from the most basic of human needs, such as access to clean drinking water, to practical issues including improving urban infrastructure.
Lafayette offers all students, both engineering and liberal arts, the opportunity to engage in the pursuit of solutions to the Grand Challenges at two levels of interest:
Alex Woltornist worked with a team of students to look at managing the nitrogen cycle by reducing waste and reducing runoff of pesticides in particular agricultural applications. The project involved Gel Labs, a hybrid non-profit research group and for-profit company the team created to replace traditional consumer plastics goods with biodegradable, water-based polymers.
Under the direction of Assistant Professor Michael McGuire, students worked with the Geosynthetic-Reinforced Soil (GRS) Integrated Bridge System (IBS) to think creatively about how it can be more effectively applied to replace aging short- to medium-span bridges in rural areas of the United States.
An interdisciplinary team of students and faculty members have been addressing the challenges to the use of biodiesel as a residential heating fuel. The participating faculty members from Lafayette are Dr. Michael Senra and Dr. Lindsay Soh from chemical and biomolecular engineering.
Associate Professor and Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering Dr. Arthur Kney, P.E., Assistant Professor of Engineering Studies Dr. Benjamin Cohen and Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Dr. Mary Wilford-Hunt are leading an interdisciplinary group of Lafayette students in research involving the nitrogen cycle. The team is conducting a nitrogen footprint assessment to define the campus's nitrogen impact and considering ways that compost can relieve that impact.