XPRISE Competition

November 1, 2021

PhD students
PhD students Renjie Liu, upper left; Jane Agwara, upper right; and Mitchell Juneau, lower right, and Stephany Correa-Diaz ’24, lower left, all of chemical engineering, are among the members of the student team participating in the XPRIZE competition. (Photos courtesy of the Marc Porosoff lab)

Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who recently launched the first all-civilian mission into space, has galvanized an exciting collaboration of Hajim School engineering students to address a pressing issue on Earth: climate change. More than 30 students are vying for a $250,000 prize as part of Musk’sXPRIZE Carbon Removal Competition. They are designing a device that removes carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into commercially viable raw materials. “We are doing something that affects the whole world, because the problem we are trying to solve is a global one. So being involved in this is really exciting,” says project leader Jane Agwara, a PhD student in the lab of project mentor Marc Porosoff, assistant professor of chemical engineering.

Team members expect to learn this month whether their proposal has been accepted, entitling them to $125,000 to go on to the next stage of the four-year-long competition: building a prototype. I am thrilled at the initiative the students and their mentors took in quickly putting together a proposal and submitting it. This is an outstanding example of ways our students can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world challenges.