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Students Win National Challenge in Washington D.C.


MESA Wins National AwardButte College Students Win
National Challenge in Washington D.C.


Only Community College Team Selected

in the Nation Wins $90,000 Grant

A team of four Butte College students from the Mathematics, Science, Engineering, Achievement (MESA) program were among 15 college and university teams from across the country that were selected as winners of the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition held in Washington, D.C, April 21-23.

The Butte College team included civil engineering major Jesus Flores, electrical engineering major Robert Nava, mechanical engineering major Bryce Rhodes and transfer and current CSU Chico civil engineering major Luis Vazquez. The team is being mentored by Steve Feher, Butte College engineering instructor and MESA director Nena Anguiano, who traveled with the team to Washington D.C.

The Butte College students were the only community college team selected for the competition which featured more than 300 college innovators – including those from Princeton, Purdue and Cornell . On Monday, April 23, the team won the competition and will receive the "second phase" award grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design, apply it to real world applications, or move it to the marketplace. Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are marketing the technologies in the U.S. and around the world. The MESA team was previously awarded $15,000 to participate in the contest, which required a project designed with sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.

The Butte Team developed structural insulated panels for building construction using rice hulls as the primary raw material. Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are marketing the technologies in the U.S. and around the world.

"We are very proud of our team of Butte College MESA students and their mentors," said Butte College President, Dr. Kimberly Perry. "To be selected as the only community college team in the country is an amazing feat. Their winning project competed against Ivy League four year universities such as Cornell and Princeton."

Following an initial peer review process, this year's winners were selected from 45 competing teams after two days of judging by a panel of national experts convened to provide recommendations to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. EPA selected the award-winning projects from the most competitive pool of teams ever, basing their decisions on the potential to provide innovative, cutting-edge sustainable solutions to worldwide environmental problems. Butte College is the first community college in the EPA's P3 program's eight year history that has won a grant at this level.

"The competition and expo are not only about EPA's prestigious P3 award, but also about supporting the next generation of this country's innovators and entrepreneurs who are entering the environmental and public health field with passion to make a difference and many brilliant ideas," said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Research and Development. "The P3 program gives these students the opportunity to bring those ideas to realization and many have the potential to make significant impacts on our nation's sustainable future and development of environmental technologies."

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MESA, an academic preparation program that each year serves about 20,000 California pre-college, community college and university students who are educationally disadvantaged, is an award-winning program with a model that works. Currently MESA has programs in 33 of California's 110 community colleges and serves less than one half a percent of the one million full time community college students in the state. But MESA students account for 10 percent of all Latino STEM transfers, 13 percent of all African American STEM transfers and 20 percent of all Native American STEM transfers in California. One hundred percent of MESA community college students who transfer to a four-year institution enter as STEM majors.

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EPA's P3 – People, Prosperity, and the Planet—Program is a unique college competition for designing solutions for a sustainable future. P3 offers students quality hands-on experience that brings their classroom learning to life. The competition has two phases. For the first phase of the competition, teams are awarded a $15,000 grant to develop their idea. They bring the design in April to the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington DC to compete for the P3 Award and a grant of $90,000 to take their design to real world application.

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