DAA Weekly Reading List

Reading the News - crop
What’s new and noteworthy this week in the engineering and design world? At Draper Aden Associates, we’ve been following these stories and think you should too!

Virginia is for Composters

This year, Virginia became the newest state to form a regional chapter of the US Composting Council. This Virginia Composting Council (VCC) is headed by none other than Draper Aden Associate’s own Pieter Conradie, PE (Waste Resource Engineering Program Manager, Richmond) and brings compost manufacturers, municipal managers, researchers, and other allies together to promote composting education initiatives. Only the fourth regional chapter to form to-date, the VCC joins California, Minnesota and North Carolina in setting an example for composting education and legislative action throughout the United States. For more information on the VCC, please visit the US Composting Council.

A New Spin on Rumpelstiltskin

Did you know that you might actually be a human goldmine? According to researchers at the US Geological Survey (USGS), human solid waste can contain gold, silver and other metals, as well as the rare elements such as palladium and vanadium that are used in electronics and alloys.  The trick, however, remains: how can we harvest these metals to reduce our dependence on mining, as well as the hazardous release of these elements into the environment? As one of the researchers on the study, Kathleen Smith, PhD, points out, “If you can get rid of some of the nuisance metals that currently limit how much of these biosolids we can use on fields and forests, and at the same time recover valuable metals and other elements, that’s a win-win.” In experimenting with leachates, Smith and her team are hoping to find the best way to separate and re-purpose precious metals from biosolids. Could the waste from 1 million Americans be worth $13 Million, as one other research group estimates? Only time, and a lot of pungent research, will tell.

Supergirls for Science

This Monday marked the Fifth Annual White House Science Fair which featured innovative projects, experiments, and designs STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students across America. Projects included a wave tank demonstrating how a lakeside power-generating system worked, software that looks for potential new drugs to treat diseases like cancer and Ebola, and, maybe most adorably, a Lego-built page-turning robot designed for use by disabled people that was created by a group of elementary school Supergirls from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The team of six-year-old Supergirls wore red capes over their Girl Scout uniforms and were able to personally demonstrate the robot to President Obama. The Supergirls and all the other fair participants prove, once again, that STEM education is for everyone.