Villanova Engineers Participate in 24-Hour Think Tank Competition

Peter Nelson ’18 ChE was a member of the Aqua America team, which won second place in the SPARK competition.
Peter Nelson ’18 ChE was a member of the Aqua America team, which won second place in the SPARK competition.

Fourteen Villanova University students—11 from the College of Engineering— recently participated in a 24-hour think tank competition in collaboration with Drexel University. SPARK is a two-day competition where students work with industry partners to solve real-world energy, water and environmental problems. The experience provides students the opportunity to address everyday situations, network with industry professionals and improve their presentation skills.

Students from Villanova and Drexel worked together on challenges from Aqua America, The City of Philadelphia, Strategic Distribution, Inc., US Army Corps of Engineers and Warren PSI. Randy Weinstein, Villanova Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, served as one of the judges for the competition. Four Villanova students were awarded prizes for their efforts:

  • Michael Caggiano ’18 CE and his team were awarded a $2,000 first place prize for their work on Warren PSI.
  • Agnes Cho (College of Nursing), Peter Nelson ’18 ChE and Huige Ouyang (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) – received a second place prize of $1,000 for their work with Aqua America.

“I see this as a wonderful opportunity for students to not only work on real world sustainable problem solving, but to do so alongside industry partners and with peers from across campus and with Drexel University,” said Liesel Schwarz, Sustainability Manager at Villanova. "Teams incorporated sustainability issues into their project solutions, such as how to get Philadelphians to purchase more renewable energy or how to manage pollutants in our water and landfills."

This marks the second year Villanova has participated in the SPARK competition. The event is organized by engineering company O’Brien & Gere.