2023 Final Competition Winner – Vanderbilt University

Presenting Team Member:

Arielle Kopp – Undergraduate in Engineering Science

School:  Vanderbilt University

Challenge: Curb Your Carbon​

The objective of this challenge is to develop an innovative solution that will reduce carbon emissions from U.S. buildings (residential, commercial, new, or existing). Student problem statements can focus on embodied carbon, carbon sequestration and storage, and/or operational carbon emissions. Innovative solutions should lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, and fewer inequalities in obtaining new technologies for identified stakeholder groups.

Project Title: Composite Beam Machine​

Solution: Currently, steel is a major component of many buildings. While researchers are working on reducing the embodied carbon content of the material, the rate at which we are building houses is soon predicted to outpace the demand. This will leave us with a shortage of recycled steel and is going to force us to look for alternative sustainable solutions. To address this issue, we created a machine that makes composite steel-timber beams. These beams are composed of both steel and cross-laminated timber to create strong structural supports for buildings. We would also work to implement policy solutions in which the government would subsidize our beams to overcome the increase in cost associated with the beginning of any new technology. Moreover, our solution will target the environmental injustices associated with our key stakeholder groups (specifically those located near these plants) and work to create jobs and a healthier community for these populations.