Graduates Secure Fulbright Scholarships

POSTED ON: June 26, 2012

Julien Caubel (ME'12) designed a bio-waste powered engine for rural communities in Ghana. Caubel's design is powered by agricultural waste like grain chaff that is otherwise discarded or burned by farmers. Video still from Masha Vlasova's The Mothers, a 52 min film essay
Julien Caubel (ME'12) designed a bio-waste powered engine for rural communities in Ghana.

Two Cooper Union graduates of 2012 have been honored with Fulbright scholarships this year to continue post-graduate work and research. Art graduate Mariya Vlasova (A'12) and mechanical engineering graduate Julien Caubel (ME'12) will be traveling to the Kyrgyz Republic and northern Ghana respectively to develop their projects with support from the Fulbright Program.

Mariya Vlasova, who focused her studies at Cooper on installation and video work, will travel to Kyrgyz Republic to create a film exploring two traditional artistic practices that predate the country’s Soviet period and remain an integral part of its social fabric today: yurt- and feltmaking. In her project, Vlasova will investigate the communal effort necessary to build a classic domicile from discrete parts and traditionally collective labor.  Vlasova has chosen this particular aspect of Kyrgyz cultural in order to examine a kind of collectivism that survived the often stiff and legislated state socialism of the Soviet era. Yurtmaking and feltmaking are craft traditions that have persevered and evolved through the shifting political milieu of centuries past: from the nomadic-traditional society through Soviet communism and eventually to the Kyrgyz Republic's current independent state.

Julien Caubel will travel to Ghana to continue research on sustainable energy production for rural communities in the African nation. Working to create a source of economically and environmentally sustainable energy to ameliorate infrastructural deficiencies in rural communities, Caubel designed, built, and tested a simple steam engine to power electric generators, water pumps, and other equipment. The system's construction and operation relies entirely upon resources that are abundantly and cheaply available to rural communities with minimal environmental impact. Caubel's steam engine system consists of two main components: a boiler and two-stroke piston engine. Inside the boiler, the combustion of agricultural bio-waste, such as grain chaff and crop bi-products, is used to heat a flow of liquid water and produce steam. This hot, pressurized steam is expanded in a two-stroke engine to generate mechanical power.  Both the engine and the boiler are fabricated using recycled materials, such as automotive scrap. The utilization of plentiful bio-fuel and recycled construction materials allow the system to be built and operated entirely within rural communities to provide common access to clean energy. Caubel's trip to Ghana this year will allow him to refine his creation and set about advocating and implementing it in rural and relatively isolated communities that have unmet infrastructural needs. After his Fulbright, Caubel will begain work toward a PhD at UC Berkeley.

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