JMU Alumni Seek $75,000 in National Sustainability Competition

From: Public Affairs

April 18, 2008

A pair of James Madison University alumni are hoping a sustainable water pumping and irrigation system they designed as seniors in the integrated science and technology program will net them a $75,000 grant so they can implement their project in Kenya.

Matt Fenzel and Colin Wright already received nearly $6,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency for the project and have been invited to compete Sunday through Tuesday, April 20-22, in the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C.

Fenzel and Wright designed the water pumping and irrigation system as their senior project during the 2006-2007 school year. Dr. Wayne Teel, a professor in JMU's ISAT program, helped the students complete and submit the initial grant proposal. The EPA's National Center for Environmental Research recognized the ingenuity of the design, awarding the students $5,996 and the opportunity to receive additional funding for the project.

Fenzel and Wright will participate in the agriculture challenge area of the competition against other student teams in hopes of eventually implementing their design. The irrigation and pumping system is intended to be inexpensive, robust and simple to use in Kenya. According to the project proposal, "when implemented, [the system] will increase crop yield and economic well-being of the community, decrease hunger, educate and increase the overall quality of life for the Namawanga Community."