Engineer girl Writing Contest
Engineer girl Writing Contest 由Engineer girl网站举办。该网站由美国国家工程学会（National Academy of Engineering）管理，旨在增加公众对工程学领域内女性的关注，关注学科发展中的平等与多样性问题。
题目：“就工程学能如何帮助实现可持续性发展的目标写一篇不超过650字的科普型文章。请从联合国给出的17个可持性发展问题的核心领域中选择一个作答”（Write an informative essay about how engineering can help humanity meet one of the Sustainable Development Goals.）
作者：Isha Gupta (5th grade at Daves Creek Elementary School)
According to the article “Global hunger fell for decades, but it's rising again,” “Food insecurity – both moderate and severe – has “consistently increased” since 2014, when the prevalence of under-nourishment was at 8.6%. It is now at 8.9%. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of hungry people grew by 10 million people.” As this statistic shows, we are not on the right track to fulfilling our sustainable development goal for zero world hunger in 2030. However, we can use engineering solutions to achieve this goal, including hydroponics. In basic terms, hydroponics is a method created by hydroponics engineers to grow plants or crops using nutrient-rich water without using soil. A hydroponic engineer is a specialist in growing plants using water instead of soil who builds and designs hydroponic systems. In the hydroponics system, the roots of the plants get both water and nutrients from the water. Importantly, hydroponics is an engineering solution that would help reduce world hunger and sustains our resources for the future.
Historically, the Aztecs utilized the idea of hydroponic systems to feed their growing populations by creating floating gardens. After being placed in the water, the roots of the plants and crops grew through the floor of the raft, so it was provided with water and nutrients. Since then, engineers have modernized the concept of hydroponics by creating equipment to allow people to have their own hydroponic system. There are various types of hydroponics systems. The most commonly used type is a drip system in which a timer controls a small tube that drips nutrient-rich water on top of the plants, which is recycled through a pump. To maintain these hydroponic systems, hydroponic engineers collaborate with people in many other fields including mechanical engineers, plumbers, and electrical engineers. When designing a hydroponic system, the engineers must weigh the pros and cons of how the nutrient level in the water will be maintained in each design.
Hydroponics can help millions of people who go hungry daily while also considering the diverse perspectives of both the producer and the consumer. First, crops can be grown any time of year using hydroponics, producing more food than traditional farming and providing the consumer with fresh food year-round, regardless of seasonality. Secondly, in places where land is not arable, hydroponics would still allow people to grow food. Finally, hydroponics increases the growth of plants by 30% to 50% compared to regular farming. Fortunately, for consumers, this means that the nutritional value of these crops is also better than traditional farming. For all these reasons, producers can grow more food. While hydroponics has positive effects for the producer and consumer, it also has negative effects. For example, it is easier for some diseases to spread in a hydroponics system because the plants are lined up or sharing the same container. Thus, it is important to remove infected plants as soon as they are discovered.
Hydroponics is also a sustainable solution for world hunger. First, crops grown through hydroponics require much less space than those grown in soil, mainly because the plant roots do not have to expand far to obtain nutrients and water. This helps conserve our resources because we use less land for plants and crops in hydroponic systems. Secondly, studies show that a hydroponic system uses up to 98% less water than traditional farming. This conserves water. Finally, hydroponics does not require pesticides or chemicals as regular farming does. This benefits the environment in the long term.
In conclusion, hydroponics is a sustainable, engineering solution that will hopefully help us reach the goal of zero world hunger in 2030. Hydroponic systems produce more food while requiring less space and resources by using more efficient methods. Ultimately, it will help us feed the growing population by allowing us to grow food where there is not enough agricultural land or resources.
作者：Chloe Weng (8th grade at Fort Settlement Middle School (Sugar Land, TX))
Made from a button and a piece of hide, traditional button whirligigs are children’s toys with a simple purpose: by pulling on the threaded string, the button spins in response. Despite its modest design, the whirligig spins at a rate of over 10,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). By expanding upon a similar concept as the whirligig, innovative bioengineers have tackled blood-borne diseases to help improve global wellness. Based on technologies that rotate rapidly, engineers have effectively enabled the diagnosis and prevention of pressing health conditions affordably in developing countries.
Among the pioneers of centrifuge-based diagnostic devices is Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum and her team of women engineers at Rice University. Their goal was to detect anemia, a major health problem in developing countries affecting about two billion people globally. Anemia can at first be mistaken as merely fatigue and headaches, but the condition can worsen into arrhythmia and other heart problems if it remains undetected. Inspired by a simple salad spinner, the all-female team creatively upcycled materials such as yogurt containers and plastic lids to develop a durable, hand-powered device that separates blood cells from plasma using a centrifuge design. When the team tested their engineering design, they found that it successfully detected anemia in thirty blood samples in only ten minutes. Although rooting out diseases was possible before, original centrifuges such as the StatSpin were slow, powered by electricity, and cost several thousand dollars, making them inaccessible to low-resource communities. The team’s achievement proved that centrifugal force and frugal science philosophy could be combined to diagnose diseases sustainably. Due to the fact that the female engineers developed the Sally Centrifuge in a low-resource setting, it shows promise and is a clever way to reuse materials that are already being manufactured without using electrical power.
Along the same vein of developments in bioengineering, Stanford professor Manu Prakash has established a human-powered centrifuge made out of paper, called the Paperfuge, to diagnose life-threatening blood-borne diseases such as malaria and HIV. At an astonishing rate of 125,000 rpm, Prakash’s Paperfuge effectively separates the heavier blood cells from the plasma in 90 seconds, leaving any potential diseases suspended in the middle. Compared to the Sally Centrifuge, designed by Kortum’s team five years earlier, the Paperfuge tests blood samples over twenty times faster. Additionally, the hand-powered Paperfuge is economical and compact; it costs only twenty cents and features a lightweight, two-gram design. As a result, its lightweight build makes it easy to transport.
Prakash took a prototype of the Paperfuge to Madagascar in 2016, where he worked with local doctors and health care workers. The health care workers examined fifty blood samples using a fluorescent stain under a microscope to confirm the diagnoses. Prakash also works with Pivot, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with the government to build community health infrastructure. Furthermore, by incorporating relatively abundant materials such as synthetic paper and twine, the Paperfuge can be duplicated in a short amount of time with limited harm to the environment since no electrical power is required. As the engineers continue to collaborate with health care workers, as well as nonprofit organizations and local governments in needy communities like Madagascar, they work towards distributing the Paperfuge for future generations in developing countries.
Inexpensive and portable devices like the Paperfuge are powerful engineered tools for clinicians to diagnose and eliminate diseases in rural communities. HIV, malaria, anemia, and other blood-borne conditions that the devices diagnose are treatable, but can become life-threatening if diagnosed too late. Starting with the promise of the Sally Centrifuge and leading to the ongoing distribution of the Paperfuge, the efforts of engineers to develop accessible technologies to detect these conditions early are crucial to develop modern global health technology and promote the wellbeing of all people around the world.
作者：Megan Haubrich (11th grade at Fred C. Beyer High School (Modesto, CA))
Dusty plains. Parched, crumbling earth. A scorching sun. This is Kenya - an East African nation that climate change and exponential population growth have left clamoring for clean water. However, a recently developed technology could finally quench Kenya’s thirst, and it's thanks to real-world magic: engineering.
Water is liquid gold in Kenya. Rain arrives unpredictably in the country’s arid lands, causing dire shortages. In a population of 54 million inhabitants, three-quarters of which reside in rural communities, nearly half of Kenyans lack reliable access to water (The World Bank Group, n.d.). These shortages impact all aspects of their lives and hinder progress to multiple of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Food insecurity rises as farmers struggle to care for crops. The necessity for many to drink contaminated water jeopardizes health, resulting in deaths from preventable diseases. Women and children remain burdened by the time-intensive responsibility of water collection, which often forces them to forsake educational and economic opportunities (Unesco, 2021).
Budding innovator Beth Koigi is intimately familiar with Kenya’s crisis, having faced the stress-inducing consequences of water insecurity while studying at Chuka University (TEDxFasoKanu, 2019). There, tap water was murky and laden with sediment - practically undrinkable. As Kenya’s water supply continued to diminish, Koigi was inspired to contemplate the nuanced relationship between climate change and water access. While attending the Global Solutions Program at Singularity University in Silicon Valley, she met like-minded thinkers including Ukrainian-Canadian environmental scientist Anastasia Kaschenko, a UN Environment’s Young Champions of the Earth finalist in 2018, and British economist Clare Sewell (UN Environment Programme, 2018).
Together, these women questioned if they could provide water for underserved communities with a universally accessible and nearly inexhaustible resource - air. “There is six times more water in the atmosphere than in all of the rivers in the world combined,” according to Kaschenko in an interview with Trent Magazine. Additionally, global climate change is only causing the amount to increase. These observations became the basis for Majik Water: a sustainable atmospheric water generation system.
In designing the product, the all-female team addressed multiple constraints. Traditional air-to-water devices utilize the process of condensation, where gaseous water molecules are slowed by their interactions with a cooled surface, forming liquid. However, maintaining this process requires large amounts of energy and equally high costs (TRENT Magazine, 2019), rendering typical atmospheric water generators inaccessible - especially for rural Kenyans.
The team turned to non-toxic drying agents, like silica gel, as an affordable, low-energy alternative. Also called desiccants, these materials absorb water from their surroundings and release it in response to heat. The team also utilized solar power to protect local ecosystems and ensure the device could be used “off the grid.”
The finished product is inclusive, promising that “if you have air, you can have drinking water” (le Cam, 2020). It uses a solar-powered fan to intake moisture-laden air, from which water vapor is absorbed by desiccants. Expelled through heat, water molecules condense as they travel down a cooled condensing coil into activated charcoal filters, resulting in ready-to-drink water stored in antimicrobial tanks (TEDxFasoKanu, 2019).
While still in its infancy, Majik Water has already had a tremendous impact. In 2019, the company partnered with The Ark Children’s Home - an organization that houses and educates Kenyan orphans from water-scarce regions - providing a device that generates 50 liters of atmosphere-derived water daily. The company is also working with several global partners from Denmark to South Africa to increase water access on a larger scale. Their efforts promise to further numerous sustainable development goals through increasing crop yields, promoting health, and empowering women and children by freeing up valuable time.
As shortages continue to threaten health and wellbeing, many Kenyans wonder if they will ever have reliable water access. However, technological innovation provides hope. Through the magic of engineering, Kenyans may finally drink in abundance.