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Dayton Engineer

Engineering students named 2022 AES Energy Innovation Challenge winners

By News, University of Dayton

Engineering graduate students Scott Eardley, Sean Kapp and Megan McNelly are the winners of the AES Corporation 2022 Energy Innovation Challenge for their Project Oasis, an indoor farming system powered by solar energy and battery storage.

The goal of Project Oasis is to provide carbon-free energy and locally grown produce to Dayton's Edgemont neighborhood to help reduce emissions in the city and address the food desert there. AES will award the group $10,000 in prize money and make a $1,000 donation to a charity of their choice. The team also will have access to AES Talent Acquisition Director Andrea Perosa for career advice.

The students not only provided an in-depth technical solution but also impressed the judges with their consideration of financing, economic benefits, community stakeholder management and social impact facets required to implement such a project, according to AES.

"We created the Energy Innovation Challenge to encourage aspiring energy professionals to explore new and potentially untapped solutions to current and future energy challenges," said Bernerd Da Santos, AES chief operating officer and adviser to the challenge organizers. "With innovation as part of our company's DNA, we want to accelerate new approaches to establishing a cleaner, smarter energy future. Scott, Sean and Megan's concept of an urban farm run on solar plus storage addresses multiple challenges facing communities in Ohio and the United States more broadly. We congratulate them on their winning project."

All three students work in the University of Dayton Industrial Assessment Center. Eardley is working toward a master's of renewable and clean energy. In the Center, he researches renewable energy and energy efficiency and performs energy assessments for industrial facilities. Kapp is working on his doctorate in mechanical engineering. In the Center, he is an energy engineer and conducts audits at manufacturing facilities to recommend energy efficiency and cost-saving strategies. McNelly is working toward a master's in engineering management and is a graduate research assistant in the Industrial Assessment Center researching best practices in energy-efficient manufacturing and performing energy assessments for manufacturers.

Now in its second year, the AES Energy Innovation Challenge provides students with an opportunity to gain the real-world experience, skills and insights needed to accelerate responsible energy transition and network with  leaders at AES, a global Fortune 500 energy company dedicated to leading the transformation to a greener energy future. This year's challenge finalists included teams from four universities, with 19 students pursuing degrees in mechanical engineering, sustainable energy, international affairs, among others.

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