Xylem’s “Let’s Solve Water” challenge pumps up students’ Imagination

Schools’ winning teams earn $1,000 each in four categories

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What is the solution to building the most efficient water pump? That was the question more 100 high school students from Rochester, N.Y., recently tried to solve as part of the inaugural “Let’s Solve Water Challenge,” sponsored by Xylem.

Xylem engineers kicked off the two-week competition, which brought together Rochester Community Robotic teams from eight high schools and introduced them to the challenge of designing and building a water pump. The students could not use any commercial assemblies in their projects other than the motor and the battery case provided. The total budget could not exceed $50. The competition was judged in four categories with each winning team receiving $1,000. The four categories and the winning teams were:

  • Fastest fill for a one-gallon container at 6 inches of head: IgKNIGHTers, McQuaid Jesuit High School.
  • Lowest average amps per gallon of water: DevilTech, Victor Central Schools.
  • Highest pressure generated at zero flow: TanX, Canandaigua Academy.
  • Most elegant design and presentation: SparX, Webster Central School.

 "The goal was to engage with students, to get them excited about solving a water problem, and to provide them with the guidance and resources to use their science, technology, and engineering know-how," said Donna Lutter, manager of communications at Xylem Applied Water Systems.

John Maxwell of McQuaid Jesuit, coordinator of the challenge, observed, “The students gained real-world water engineering skills. They worked around design constraints and were able to discover trade-offs concerning energy efficiency, flow and pressure that working professionals encounter on a daily basis. Their eyes were opened wide to a whole new area of concern for water conservation and management. They saw the project as a way to play a part in building a low-cost, low-energy pump as a solution for water sustainability.”

Plans are being made to repeat the challenge next year in Rochester and perhaps expand it to other cities in the future.



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