Fish Farming Project Wins Top Honors at WPI
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/Dec. 8, 2000
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616
WORCESTER, Mass. - Earlier this year, two Worcester Polytechnic Institute students took on the job of helping a developing nation take better advantage of fish farming. The highly successful project, which promises to raise standards of living and contribute to better nutrition, can further be applied to nations around the world.
Now that project has contributed to the success and honors for the students who tackled it.
On Dec. 6, WPI's annual President's Interactive Qualifying Project Awards Competition judged the top five of the 230 such projects completed this year. Each IQP, as they are called, examines an interaction between science and society. These projects are a requirement for graduating from this technological university in Worcester, Mass.
This year's projects came from a diverse group, all completed at international locations, from Costa Rica, to London, England, to Thailand. Besides the winning entry on fish farming, other competing projects researched the following questions:
What effect will the relocation of a Thai village have upon its inhabitants?
How can fragile historic documents in a London museum be made available to modern scholars?
What must Costa Rican fire departments do to exchange life-and-death information during an emergency?
What can be done to improve working conditions in a London hospital for the severely disabled?
In the IQP competition, the five teams of students made presentations before a panel of judges: WPI President Edward Alton Parrish; John Zeugner, WPI professor of history; Caspar Wenk, dean of the Institute of Animal Nutrition at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; Thomas Rozzell, director of fellowship at the National Academies-National Research Council; and Elye Pitts of the Africa-America Institute.
Here are the results of the 2000 competition:
- First place: Abel Alvarez-Calderon of Lima, Peru, a
junior management engineering major; and Karen Kosinski of
Middletown, R.I., a junior biotechnology major, for
"Aquaculture Techniques Applicable to Developing Nations." This WPI
team initially planned their project for Zimbabwe, Africa; however,
those plans were quashed because of political problems. With only
three weeks to regroup, Alvarez-Calderon and Kosinski reworked their
project for Costa Rica, where they achieved the goal of helping fish
farmers become more efficient and profitable. They studied the
operation of one of the country's largest fish hatcheries, learning
about fish feeding, development and breeding, while researching
smaller, more typical fish farms in rural Costa Rica. They compiled
information from surveys and field studies to produce a working manual
for fish farmers. After distributing the manual to several producers,
they verified that farmers found the manual easy to understand and
useful; they now hope to translate the manual for use in other
- Two four-member teams tied for second place: Shauna Malone of
Guilford, Conn., a junior biotechnology major; W. Lucas
Churchill of New Gloucester, Maine, a junior mechanical
engineering major; Jimmy Cook of Dallas, Texas, a senior
mechanical engineering major; and Felix Rieper of Hamburg,
Germany, a junior computer science major, for
"Geographic Information System (GIS) Development in Costa Rica"; and
Steven Meyer of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a senior
biomedical engineering major; Daniel Erickson of Franklin,
Mass., a senior chemistry major; Ruben Brito of Salem,
N.H., a senior electrical engineering major; and Joanna
Cosimini of Rehoboth, Mass., a senior biomedical
engineering major for "A Study of Employee Satisfaction at the Royal
Hospital for Neurodisability."
The GIS project was sponsored by the Costa Rican National Fire Department, which had been struggling with communications during emergencies. The students suggested the use of a GIS, a computer-based system that combines maps and demographic data. The Royal Hospital project, based in London, looked at a stressful working environment at a facility for the profoundly disabled. The team provided recommendations based on extensive research, receiving high praise from the hospital staff as a result.
- Two three-member teams tied for third place: Christopher
Holt of Milford, Mass., a computer science major; Micah
Kiffer of Kempton, Pa., a senior mechanical engineering
major; and Keith Peterson of Wrentham, Mass., a senior
electrical engineering major, for "Transcription and Cataloguing of
the Robinson Reports"; and Justin D. Greenough of Pascoag,
R.I., a senior computer science major; Stephanie
D. Janeczko of Wood-Ridge, N.J., a 2000 graduate biology
major; and Thomas J. Pfeiffer of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.,
a senior biotechnology major, for "An Assessment of the Impacts of
Relocation in a Thai Village."
For the Robinson Reports project, students devised a system to make important historical papers more accessible to scholars at a London museum. In the village relocation project, WPI team members assessed the financial, political, health and social impacts of a relocation program in Thailand.
Founded in 1865, WPI enrolls 2,700 undergraduate and 1,100 graduate students in science, engineering, management, social science and humanities.