ChE Students Win BASF Team Chemistry Challenge

Team Array of Sunshine poses wearing black suits, the men with burnt orange ties, with their award check for $15,000Chemical engineering students dominated the top two winning teams of the recent BASF Team Chemistry Challenge—a student competition to develop solutions to make UT sports events more sustainable.

The annual event is hosted by BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, and Texas Athletics and awards a total of $25,000 to the top three teams or individuals who submit winning proposals.

Team “Array of Sunshine” won first place for their idea to harness the sun’s rays to power UFCU Disch-Falk Field—the home of Texas baseball— utilizing solar panels. They also suggested the installation of industrial fans to reduce the temperature in seating areas. The team’s funding plan proposed a temporary UT Athletics Green Fee on ticketed sporting events coupled with a revolving loan fund, which would serve to help fund other sustainable projects on campus.

Team members were chemical engineering majors Kush Muzumdar, Teresa Wu and Bradley McCoy; and petroleum engineering major Taylor Lopez-Huebner.

“The Team Chemistry Challenge proves that students are passionate about environmental issues and can develop innovative and practical solutions,” said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President and Manager of the BASF site in Geismar, Louisiana, and executive sponsor of BASF’s UT School Recruiting Team. “Students also learn about BASF’s efforts to create chemistry for a sustainable future and how they can prepare for careers in our industry.”

The second-place team, “Sustadiumbility,” proposed using compostable food containers made from ecovio® — a high-quality and versatile bioplastic developed by BASF — during sports events. Team members were chemical engineering majors Rajalakshmi Ranganathan, Bobi Simonsen, Shezaz Hanan, Ben Rosselet, Annie Liu and Maria Nieto.

The third-place team, “Green Zone,” outlined a plan to install solar power posts for tailgaters to eliminate portable generators. Team members were mechanical engineering majors Nicholas Phillips, Alex Colella, Andrew Midura and Ben Bylenok; and energy and earth resources major Tess Haegele.

In addition to submitting detailed proposals, teams were asked to incorporate at least one BASF material from the company’s available portfolio of sustainable products. A BASF mentor was also assigned to each team to provide guidance and support.

In the final phase of the competition, the top five teams pitched their solutions to a panel of Texas Athletics representatives and BASF sustainability experts.

Team Array of Sunshine poses next to their presentation poster wearing black suits and  holding their hands up with the "Hook 'em Horns" hand sign“The BASF Team Chemistry Challenge not only allowed us to directly apply the technical skills we’ve acquired at UT, but it also encouraged us to be creative,” said Kush Muzumdar. “This competition opened our eyes to all the work UT Athletics and BASF are doing to develop a sustainable future.”

“We were ecstatic to hear that BASF and Texas Athletics were partnering again to make athletic events more sustainable,” said Teresa Wu. “Through this challenge, we were able to learn about the wide variety of ways that we can contribute toward a greener future for our university.”

“It is always inspiring to hear creative ideas presented by groups of intelligent and thoughtful UT students during the BASF Team Chemistry Challenge,” said Merrick MyCue, Texas Athletics Assistant Athletics Director for Events, Operations & Specialty Events. “Texas Athletics is proud to be a part of this distinctive program that brings together athletics, an industry partner and UT students to work toward solutions to everyday problems.”


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