Beyond the classroom, Seminole State students have also gained practical experience with sustainability and renewable energy technologies through EMERGE-sponsored co-curricular design and research projects.
Under faculty guidance, students from Seminole State's STEM Club took on the challenge of designing and building an electric go-kart to race against other colleges in competitions sanctioned by Electrathon America. Students approached the project with a variety of technical backgrounds and an even broader range of prior mechanical experience.
As a perpetual work-in-progress, the kart can serve as a tool for students to tinker and continually re-evaluate the effects of physical constraints, design choices and environmental factors on the vehicle’s energy use and efficiency.
Partnering with EMERGE and biology faculty, students from the Environmental Initiatives Club undertook a project to grow and harvest a variety of leafy greens in a passive (non-pumped) modular hydroponics system.
Prior to germination, students researched the various technical considerations that come with growing vegetables outside soil, such as light availability, nutrient concentration, water pH and reservoir depth. Two student design teams brainstormed potential DIY framing structures and presented their unique designs to a panel of subject matter experts for review. By managing this project from seed to table, students witnessed the carbon and nitrogen cycles at work. Each semester's cycle of planting and harvest provides an opportunity to adjust a new variable and observe the results.
EMERGE has also sponsored multiple independent student research projects, four of which have been presented as poster sessions at the Global Council for Science & the Environment's Annual Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy & the Environment in Washington, D.C.
During their conference presentations, students met with scientists, policymakers and other up-and-coming researchers from colleges and universities across the country. Past presentation topics have included an investigation into the links between pesticide exposure and lupus symptoms in farm workers; a pilot sustainability curriculum for a local STEM charter school; a report on the sustainable construction practices of Earthship Biotecture; and an evaluation of the costs and benefits of refitting the College’s food-service operations for composting.