A team of four Butte College students will present their research findings to expert scientists in Washington, D.C. this spring as part of an invitation-only US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) competition.
The Butte College Mathematics, Science, Engineering, Achievement (MESA) program was awarded $15,000 for the students to participate in the contest which tasks teams to design sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.
Butte College is the only community college among 45 institutions—including Purdue, Princeton and Cornell—selected for the EPA's "People, Prosperity and the Planet" national competition.
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 comprise the MESA Butte College team and are being mentored by Steve Feher, Butte College engineering instructor. They researched and developed a productive use of agricultural waste by using rice hulls as alternative building materials.
The MESA team will present the project to a judging panel of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the nation's capitol. The winning team will receive $90,000 to implement the project.
"This applied research has the potential to impact not only the students involved but the Butte College campus and our community at large," said Nena Anguiano, Butte College MESA director
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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.