2013 Ford C3 Winners

Michigan State University

This project simultaneously addresses two huge awareness problems: the real impact of energy on the environment and the technologies that make computers work. Although our economic competitiveness and future security depend on innovations in science and technology, most young people, particularly women and minorities, do not see the opportunities. In many high schools, “computing” classes teach only keyboarding and word processing—topics that few consider intellectually challenging or socially relevant. This project will capitalize on the appeal among young people in smart phones to change this perception.

This generation of high school students has grown up with mobile devices, and are intrigued by the idea of programming them. This motivation, combined with good tools, will help them learn to program in the Java programming language at the high school level. Developing energy awareness apps will help them understand how energy is produced, distributed, and consumed; they will discover for themselves the impact different energy sources have on the environment and the potential of conservation methods. More importantly, they will learn how they can harness technology to address problems relevant to their lives.

A team of MSU students will develop a teaching module, software libraries, and cloud support for energy awareness projects for Android-based phones and tablet computers. The teaching module and software scaffolding will enable high school students to create Java programs that gather information about energy usage in their immediate locality and present that information in a variety of ways. The MSU students will test and refine these materials by means of a pilot after-school enrichment opportunity at Bath and/or Lansing High Schools. The resources required to replicate this program will be made available for other educators to download and use. Two computer science professors at Michigan State University will serve as advisers on the project.

  • Michigan State University participates in Ford C3.

College for Creative Studies

As talented artists converge in Detroit they encounter the same challenges and opportunities as other residents. Access to fresh food (food security) and the blight often associated with vacant space have garnered national attention as artists link their work to Detroit’s extensive urban agriculture movement. This proposal grows out of an engagement by artists and students at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) and the college’s Community Arts Partnerships’ (CAP) outreach to the Detroit community. Much of this activity is taking place in Detroit’s Northend community, adjacent to CCS’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education campus site. Through classes and student projects, this program seeks to support, expand, and inculcate these activities within the college and the community, while creating sustainable models for this work.

“Art and Urban Farming” unites the efforts of CCS, Northend Christian CDC, and the Henry Ford Academy:School for Creative Studies (HFA:SCS). CCS is a fully accredited college of Art and Design and this program will operate out of the Fine Art Department. Northend Christian CDC contributes to the sustainability of the Northend by providing a healthy lifestyle including community farming. HFA:SCS is a public charter middle and high school with a curricular focus on art and design. The program will be coordinated by CCS’ CAP program which provides art and design programs to Detroit communities “in the service of individual and community development”.

CCS and its partners will link artists, students, and the greater community through classes and student projects to explore, pilot, and implement creative, low tech, and easily replicable solutions to common challenges associated with urban farming in Detroit. These could include: weather protection; water collection, storage and distribution; limited growing space; composting; garden amenities such as seating and shelter; and garden aesthetics to beautify surroundings.

  • Northend Community Garden.

University of Texas at Arlington

The UTA Service Learning Anti-Diabetes Campaign will address the growing issue of undiagnosed Diabetes in low income populations. Creating videos for differing educational levels and language translations, it will serve to educate and sustain healthful nutrition and life style habits. The 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet released January 26, 2011, reports 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and 79 million are prediabetic. Arlington Texas is no different than the rest of the nation.

Due to the high numbers of people with diabetes, Mission Metroplex Medical Clinic does screening for everyone 18 years of age and over. One half of all patients seen at the clinic each day have a diabetes related problem. Last year, using 42 volunteer medical doctors in 9 different disciplines, the Clinic provided $1,058,005 worth of free medical care to our community. We also provided another million dollars’ worth of free prescriptions for people. In 2012, the Clinic treated 789 patients per month. As a result of discussions with Clinic staff and UTA, these two partners will collaborate on an interdisciplinary service learning project. In this project students from multiple classes mentioned later in this text, will collaborate to form a team who will work under faculty supervision to lead this innovative project.

Currently we are able to screen and to treat patients with diabetes related problems, but we are unable to provide more than simple/basic education. We aren't able to provide adequate education at this time, because our clients have a fifth grade or lower education level and have low motivation for change. UTA Service Learning Anti-Diabetes Campaign would provide an innovative solution to help people understand diabetes and their role in treatment and prevention. We would be engaging our population in their language, on their reading level, and level of understanding using videos and games.

  • UTA Service Learning Anti-Diabetes Campaign.

Brown University

Rainwater for Humanity (R4H) aims to reliably supply potable water to the people of the Achinakom village in the Kuttanad region of Kerala, India by financing the cost of custom-designed rainwater harvesting tanks serving three to five families each. Most residents of the area are aware that rainwater collection is the best option for potable water, but simply cannot afford the large capital investment necessary to construct a harvesting and storage system.

While public taps are available, they provide water only a few times a week require up to 5 mile walks: a significant time investment that could be spent generating income. Alternatively, private vendors deliver water to remote villages irregularly, but their supply is unregulated and third-party analysis has shown contamination. Further, their water costs are high— about 10% of the average local income. By financing the upfront cost of the tanks, then allowing the villagers to pay for a part of the tank according to their water usage, R4H is able to provide this basic need in a financially sustainable manner.

Fostering local participation, R4H employs masons from the community where the tanks are built. Upon completion, R4H hires a local tank manager to oversee the water dispersal and collect payments for the water as it is used. The revenue is then deposited by a local R4H executive and is used to cover tank operating costs including repairs, salaries for the managers, and rent to the household that hosts the tank. The remainder goes towards recouping the initial construction investment.

In the short-term, R4H plans to serve the entire village of Achinakom of about 1,250 residents with a total of 50 tanks. At a larger scale, we estimate 700,000 people could benefit from our model in the Kuttanad region, focusing on communities of average income with seasonal rains and an inadequate public water supply.

  • Rainwater for Humanity.

Wayne State University

The proposed project builds on SEED Wayne's successes to support student leadership in community engagement projects while also developing infrastructure for community gardens, community nutrition education, and food system-related economic development. These student-led projects advance SEED Wayne's mission while also extending our reach to new communities, population groups, and partnerships.

Projects initiated in 2013 include a) a community garden on a tax-foreclosed property in Hazel Park at Merrill and Elza, in partnership with city agencies, neighborhood residents, and local businesses; b) WSU-based Warrior Demonstration Garden led by a group of freshmen and sophomores called SLUGS; c) a nutrition education project led by public health student association (PHSA) in Detroit neighborhoods that are under-served by grocery stores; and d) a feasibility study and pilot test for a subsidized student produce box at the Wayne State University Farmers Market.

Other projects include those initiated by students over the course of the 2013-14 academic year. Support to a) the Hazel Park Community Garden would include the development of physical and social infrastructure in the form of raised beds, rainwater capture, and summer stipends for two student interns to operate the garden and coordinate volunteers; b) Warrior Demonstration Garden would include the replacement of worn-out garden bed frames, purchase of basic tools and supplies, development and printing of outreach materials; c) PHSA would purchase standard nutrition education kits for interactive 'motivational interviewing' with children and their parents and seniors to move to healthier diets, and other supplies for cooking demonstrations of nutritious and conveniently assembled recipes in partnership with Detroit FRESH-Healthy Corner Stores; and d) two student intern stipends to assess feasibility of, and pilot-test, a 15-week subsidized produce box for WSU students which will benefit participating farmers.

  • Wayne State University participates in Ford C3.

Essex County College

With the unmistakable trend in urban gardening and a greater recognition that food sustainability emphasizes the benefits of local food production, we are proposing improvements that would support a fledgling urban hydroponics effort in Newark, NJ. We look to partner with Urban Farm (a pilot urban agriculture project) to implement a rainwater harvesting system (water catchment, storage, and purification) with a photovoltaic powered distribution system to promote and help grow a nascent urban hydroponic food production system.

Hydroponics are not reliant on soil; rather this technology uses growing media that permits a faster plant growth rate, while delivering a higher crop yield. In recognizing that hydroponics has a considerable and costly demand for water, our proposal seeks to enhance the sustainability of the overall project and shift the hydroponics water burden (and associated cost) from the Newark city water supply to a free sustainable source – rainwater.

The hydroponics project we are looking to support is itself a partnership between the Branch Brook Park Alliance and Essex County. The project seeks to serve as a model for Newark and the surrounding Essex County, to increase healthy food access in an underserved area and also to be an educational laboratory to share this technology.

We are looking to build on this venture, to not only assist this agriculture mission by providing needed resources, at no cost to the facility, but also to enhance the sustainable nature of the overall hydroponics project. With a nearly free supply of water, this endeavor will help support the likelihood of long-term success and support the anticipated growth of the extant hydroponics system from one to the second of two 4,000 ft2 Urban Farm greenhouses. We envision that incorporating this technology into the greenhouse infrastructure, the urban agriculture project will save money and will continue to do so long after this grant project has been implemented and completed.

  • Essex County College participates in Ford C3.

Arizona State University

FlashFood is a rapid food recovery network powered by a mobile and web-based application. Every year in America, 129 Billion pounds of food goes to waste from grocery stores and restaurants. This food waste is the second largest contributor to the municipal solid waste stream, and a significant contributor to US methane emissions, a greenhouse gas over 20 times more effective at retaining heat than carbon dioxide. Yet each day, 1 in 6 Americans struggles with hunger.

FlashFood makes possible the recovery and delivery of rapidly perishable foods from food service businesses. Using the FlashFood mobile application, a food business is able to instantly notify a corps of FlashFood volunteers (FlashFoodies) when they have leftover perishable food. These volunteers can then transport the food directly to hungry families in nearby communities. FlashFood uses technology to revolutionize conventional logistics associated with food recovery, by automating donations, volunteer scheduling, and food recipient notification. Restaurants benefit from enhanced tax deductions for donating food, and publicity from participation in the FlashFood recovery network. FlashFood enables any community member to play an active role in fighting hunger in their communities, by participating as a FlashFoodie or by giving patronage to food businesses that participate in FlashFood recovery and donation.

Since the start of the project, FlashFood has completed the beta version of a mobile application, worked with local authorities to develop industry grade food safety procedures and raised enough capital to begin piloting operaitons. In the coming months we're looking to expand our operations in the Phoenix area, and ultimately to communities across the country.

  • FlashFood.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and University of Richmond (UR) students propose an innovative community-building project in metropolitan Richmond, Va. (RVA). A team of VCU and UR business, engineering and urban planning students will organize a mass transportation solution that will assist low income communities in gaining access to jobs across the Richmond region. Their project will address RVAPASS, a web and phone-based application that will be designed to combine existing transportation options (bikes, taxis, Segways, public buses, private shuttles, trolleys, etc.) with new technology for accessing services and schedules.  The student team will work with organizations that are committed to growing transportation solutions, which are in high gear as part of the run up to the 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championship that is expected to bring 450,000 spectators into the city and surrounding communities.

University of Michigan

To address inequities in resource consumption in Washtenaw County, University of Michigan engineering students formed the Living Buildings team in an initiative to provide innovative retrofit designs to allow our region's existing structures to self-sustain within their site footprint, as characterized by the Living Building Challenge.

Since then, the student team has immersed itself in creating a community testbed for home retrofit for net-zero resource consumption to demonstrate how this can be achieved in a typical, century-old southeastern Michigan house.

The home has already been retrofit for net-zero energy status by our community partner THRIVE Net Zero Collaborative, making it the oldest residential structure in the country to do so. By incorporating net-zero water consumption and site ecological restoration, our team can create a well-rounded Mission-Zero House (MZH) Community Testbed to encourage application of these design strategies across the community. By engaging community members, young students and businesses in design charrettes, and providing hands-on tours at an annual residential sustainability event inspired by the house, Mission Zero Fest (attended by over 1,500 last year), this project serves as a vehicle of community collaboration throughout the design process as well as after completion. After a semester of conceptual design of the rainwater collection, storage and purification system, this summer harvested water quality testing and system protoyping will be well underway on the university campus and at the site. The process will be documented online by the students and an ongoing U-M Engineering video story.


Return to Ford C3 Past Winners