Undergrad Wins Brower Youth Award

Will Amos Sept. 6, 2016 - Samueli School undergraduate Will Amos has been named one of six national winners of the 2016 Brower Youth Award recognizing outstanding youth leaders making a difference in the environmental movement. Amos, an environmental engineering major, leads a UC Irvine team of art and engineering students creating a bicycle-powered, closed-loop 3-D printer/print recycling station.

The project, partially funded by the Calit2/UROP-sponsored Multidisciplinary Design Program, uses human energy, supplied by pedaling a bicycle, to operate a 3-D printing press; the system reduces waste by recycling and reusing all plastics used in the process.

Known as S.P.A.M. (Specialists in Plastic Additive Manufacturing), the MDP team grew out of last fall’s Solar Decathlon. Team Orange County members were tasked with creating a “Tool Room of the Future” for the Casa del Sol home they were designing and building; they began developing the sustainable 3-D printer for the home.

It works like this: a rider pedals a bicycle to provide the energy to run the mobile, cart-mounted operation; the power is sent to a generator, then to a battery, where it is stored, and finally to an inverter that converts the DC power into AC and drives the 3-D printer.

Spooled plastic filament is used to print three-dimensional items. The printer recycles old printed products by grinding them into fragments, melting the plastic and extruding it into 3- millimeter plastic filament. That filament is then spooled and reused in the printing process.

“By constantly recycling the plastic, and using renewable energy, the printer and the plastics it used could be constantly cycled, thus not taxing the earth’s natural resources,” Amos said. “And while at the Solar Decathlon, we talked often about this concept [but] we didn’t have the proper time or resources to actually put the idea into action. That’s where SPAM comes in. We created this team so that we could actually take the ideas we had for the Solar Decathlon house and put them into action.”

The Brower Youth Award includes a $3,000 prize, which Amos is using to continue improving the project. The team will add solar and wind power functions, as well as a feedback screen, allowing those pedaling to see how much electricity they are generating. “I feel ecstatic to have been recognized for my humble attempts to ensure that renewable energy and sustainable technologies are understood not only by engineers like myself but by the general public as well,” he said.

Studio Art Assistant Professor Jesse Jackson met Amos during the Solar Decathlon and hosts the group’s efforts in his Speculative Prototyping Lab. “Will is an excellent student, an emerging leader, an environmental champion and an exceptional person,” said Jackson. “I have no doubt that he will go on to great success at the conclusion of his studies at UCI.”

--Anna Lynn Spitzer

Image Gallery