Power for Water

Currently, about 140 million rural mountain inhabitants lack access to an improved water source. Consequently, there is an urgent need to find an efficient solution to supply safe water to these populations by further developing the delivery of piped water. Piped water is necessary to conveniently supply the water volume required to meet personal and household hygiene and consumption needs. Unfortunately, willingness to pay for water is traditionally low, and sustainable financing of the necessary water supply infrastructure is known to be very challenging. Power for Water will overcome this obstacle by implement an innovative combination of policy and technology. Specifically, the project combines a proven infrastructure synergy and an efficient public-private partnership to sustainably address the lack of access to safe water and electricity in rural mountainous regions of the world. By overcome the technological and institutional barriers currently preventing millions of people from access to clean, reliable water, this project will improve the lives of millions of people
living in remote mountain regions.

Requirements for a Renewables Revolution

This project identifies and analyzes the obstacles presently barring the rise of renewables, evaluates the role of the current policy favorite emission pricing, and offers design recommendations for a comprehensive U.S. renewable policy. Successful climate change mitigation requires a timely shift to renewable sources of energy, such as sunlight, wind or tides, to decarbonize today’s high-carbon electricity sector. But market pull alone is not strong enough. This paper discusses the most widely cited economic barriers and identifies and evaluates additional obstacles related to the electricity sector’s regulatory framework. The project explores a number of policy approaches and their relative chances success. In light of the plethora of obstacles to a timely transition to renewables, this project calls for concerted policy action by scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers, marketers, and educators to fuel the renewables revolution. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)

Using Demand Management to Address the Problem of Intermittent Water Supply: The Capellanía Water System in Panama

Many piped potable water systems in developing countries do not provide continuous service. Intermittent supply is a nuisance to users and can degrade water quality. During much of the year the Capellanía water system in Coclé, Panamá provides only intermittent service to many of its clients. This project examines ways to address the issue of unreliable service in the Capellanía water system by managing demand rather than increasing supply. Many supply management approaches are explored, including improved metering, a changed billing structure and infrastructure improvements to prevent water loss. The paper finds that managing demand is a less expensive and more effective way to improve service quality for residents in developing countries affected by unreliable water availability. (Note: This project originally won in the Big ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)

Policy Proposals to Reduce Overharvest From Marine Fisheries

Historically, marine management policies have been unable to ensure sustainable, economically viable fishing practices. These policies have been ineffective in regulating technological advancements in fishing, and flawed policies have contributed towards hastening the use of harmful technologies. As a result, several once-major fishing stocks are overfished or collapsed, resulting in both severe environmental degradation and large economic losses. This paper proposes a series of initiatives to encourage the fishing industry to adopt sustainable fishing practices and provide support to maintain healthy, profitable commercial fish populations.(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)

Magneto-Optic Technology Hits The Field: A pilot program to implement a new malaria diagnostic device in Southern Benin

Malaria is a disease endemic to regions of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia that continues to do serious humanitarian and economic damage to developing countries. A new diagnostic tool (the MOT device) has recently been invented that would improve access to accurate malaria diagnosis at low costs. To collect information on the best way to bring these devices to the communities that need it, we propose a fact-finding pilot program to provide MOTmalaria diagnosis and treatment centers to 25,000 people in Southern Benin. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)


This project aims to increase interest in the current state of data collection practices and privacy concerns by demonstrating greater salience of the types of data collected by commercial websites and the potential risks involved, along with the uses and value for those collecting it. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)

Coal Power and Reversing Climate: Can They Work Together?

Hundreds of U.S. companies have a stake in continued use of coal-based electricity. Unfortunately, burning coal is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions which in turn cause climate change. This paper examines potential solutions to this problem and suggests policies to commercialize an emerging technology called carbon capture and storage. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)

Medical Smart Card System for Patient Record Management

Rising healthcare spending is a serious issue for the United States. Electronic medical records are seen as an effective way to solve the problem, however they are difficult to implement. We propose the development of personal portable healthcare record smart cards and a corresponding framework to simplify maintenance and transfer of patient records as an incremental step towards a nationalized electronic records system. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)