SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — A pair of Indian-American teenagers are being honored by the Environmental Protection Agency, both are recipients of the 2015 President’s Environmental Youth Award.
The EPA announced the winners — two from each of the agency’s 10 regions throughout the country — April 19. Cupertino’s Sanjana V. Shah and Pittsburgh’s Rohan Chalasani were each selected for the honor.
Shah, 14, received the award for her efforts in inventing a network of flow sensors which analyze real-time data and assess the risk of flooding in her community. She was inspired to invent the network after her and her family were stranded in their car on a flooded road. Shah independently conducted research, developed a monitoring device and implemented a pilot project in her neighborhood.
The Monta Vista High School freshman was also a top-10 in this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
“Urban floods can have devastating consequences on human life, the environment and the economy,” said EPA Pacific Southwest administrator Jared Blumenfeld in a statement. “EPA is proud to honor Sanjana’s extraordinary effort to engage in environmental action and better the lives of people in communities throughout the nation.”
Using a network of wireless flow sensors in the city’s drainage system to collect and analyze rain and storm water flow data, she was able to calculate the flood risk in her community. She further demonstrated to those in her community how flooding could be prevented by finding and fixing the sizes of drainage pipes and creating real-time alerts for the city’s crew.
“Sanjana’s flood sensor device takes advantage of cutting edge remote and real-time technology, while being feasible and cost-effective for local jurisdictions to employ,” said Shah’s science, math and computer science teacher Debbie Frazier in the EPA’s release. “This project emerged out of a life experience for Sanjana’s family that could be prevented for others. It also has great applications for improving planning and maintenance of drainage systems during non-flooding seasons. Sanjana is a model for modern youth – it’s so valuable for young people to move beyond just using mobile tech, to developing it and using it in innovative ways.”
The sensors have now been installed throughout her community, which alert nearby homes of water build-up.
Additionally, Shah was a finalist at this year’s Bluetooth Breakthrough Award, and finished second at the 2015 Cisco IoT World Forum Young Women’s Innovation Grand Challenge.
Chalasani, a junior at Pittsburgh’s Fox Chapel High School, was selected for his impact of energy consumption reduction on household carbon footprints.
The award has been distributed annually since 1971 to exceptional students grades K through 12 who demonstrate creativity, innovation and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges. It seeks to promote awareness of the nation’s natural resources.