SMU, Restaurants Unite to Support World Water Day

March 22, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Praveen Sathianathan

Water is one of the most basic resources. But globally millions of people do not have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Tuesday, in honor of World Water Day, SMU will turn off its fountains from noon to 1 p.m.

The SMU chapter of Engineers Without Borders will use the day, which is observed internationally on March 22, to focus attention on water needs around the world, global poverty and what they are doing to solve the ever-growing problem.

VIDEO: World Water Day from on Vimeo.

“Approximately one in every eight people does not have access to safe water and this situation keeps an enormous number of people trapped in a cycle of disease and poverty,” said Hannah McGary, a member of the SMU EWB chapter.

The organization is also working with three local restaurants to raise money for a planned “water distribution project” in Central America, according to a SMU News and Communications press release.

The project, which will cost $35,000, involves the installation of a water storage tank and piping system in Panimacac, Guatemala. To aid the fundraising efforts, Vapiano and Pokey-O’s will donate a portion of their sales on March 22 from SMU diners. Rockfish in Mockingbird Station will donate a portion of their sales from March 22-25 to the cause.

EWB members will be at the main fountain at noon Tuesday answering questions about World Water Day. SMU’s Sustainability Committee and Office of Facilities Management will hand out low-flow shower heads.

Senior advertising major Sarah Kane said her older brother who was deployed to Afghanistan taught her an important lesson about putting things into perspective.

“I know that it is easy to take things for granted,” she said. “Now [when she drinks water] I always try to think about how lucky we are as Americans to have the things that we have.”

Turning off the fountains is not the first water conservation attempt at SMU. The university uses many methods to preserve and save water.

Kevin Dilliard, director of landscape management, said the use of more perennial plants that are adaptive to the area rather than annual plants, which are not adaptive and use more water, and the use of different soil additives like composts and mulches have contributed to the preservation of water on campus.

He said the computerized irrigation system that is hooked to a weather station has also made a large impact.

“Instead of just running the water for a set amount of time we can now calculate how much water was lost during a 24-hour period due to temperature, wind, humidity and other factors,” Dillard said. “The weather station now tells the computer system how long to run the irrigation to replace the water that was lost.”

Dilliard also said the move for newer buildings on campus such as the Embrey Engineering Building, Caruth Hall and Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall to be LEED Certified, has also contributed to water conservation.

“The plant material around those buildings have to be water conserving plants. There is no turf around them,” Dillard said. “The materials in the designs are driven by LEED requirements.”

He said SMU also collects rainwater from several buildings including Patterson Hall, and uses grey water, which is wastewater generated from everyday use, to irrigate the outside of many buildings.

Video and Editing by Andy Garcia

Calling all SMU students: Turn Your Idea Into an Invention

September 9, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Rachael Mackin

Students, professors, businessmen and inventors gathered in the basement of SMU’s Caruth Hall to not only stay safe from the tornado on Wednesday evening, but for the SMU Innovation Competition kick-off party.

Students were invited to get conversations started with each other and professionals about what to make, who to work with and how to win this year’s competition, which officially begins in October.

But what if you’re not an engineering or business major?

“I don’t care if you’re an engineering student or an English major-this competition is our avenue to allow you to express that creative aspect of yourself as an embodiment of a thing,” said Dr. Nathan Huntoon, director of the Innovation Gymnasium and main organizer of the competition.

The annual competition, which started last year, was thought of by Gregory Carr, an SMU Engineering alum. He said he started the event because he believes inventors are the backbone of the success of our country and they need to be recognized and rewarded to flourish.

There are five deadlines for potential inventors to keep in mind for the SMU Innovation Competition. The first is on Oct. 14, when written proposals from the teams are due.

What else should potential inventors keep in mind if they want to get involved?

Professor Patty Alvey, Distinguished Chair and director of the Temerlin Advertising Institute for Education and Research told the students that the real key to this competition is partnership and working together to create something that both works and rewards.

“When something works, it’s informative or it’s relevant,” Alvey said. “It tells me something. It’s friendly and clear. Most importantly to my business and eventually yours if you end up owning a patent is that it moves product or people or ideas from one place to another.”

Tom Selgas was among the speakers last night. As the owner of 35 patents, he said he was there to talk to students about what it will take for students to do his job.

“You need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations,” Selgas said.

Selgas continued by saying that as an inventor, it is important to explore necessities.

“If you’re looking for a great idea, listen to people, talk to people and take interest in them and what kind of problems they might be having- and what you can make to solve those problems,” Selgas said.

How can you win this year’s competition?

“Do something that is at least a little bit surprising so that the judges look at it and think ‘hey, I’ve never thought of that- that’s a great idea’,” Carr offered.

SMU junior Raven Sanders won the competition last year with her Surround Sound Mixing Device. She is an engineering student who says her invention has taken over her entire life, but she says anybody can do it.

“Winning the competition was definitely the best day of my life and the thing that kept me going was knowing that I was creating something that was mine, not something I was assigned to,” Sanders said. “Start talking to people and make a team and think about different ways to approach the ideas you might already have.”

If you missed last night’s kick-off party, it’s not too late to sign up and start inventing. For more information, visit the Innovation Competition site.

The Daily Update: Monday, April 19

April 19, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Read more