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Recycled Paper Firewood Press Wins Jackson Award

Mar 24, 2021   |   by Julie Bonette

A team of Dartmouth engineering undergraduates built a small-scale at-home system to make firewood from paper recycling, earning them Winter term’s Jackson Award for best overall performance in ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering.

Members of the winning team are: Bronson Starsiak '23, Eric Gibson '23, Luc Cote '23, and Russell Rapaport '22. The team's TA was Sebastian Logue '22, and their instructor was Gary Hutchins, a staff member in Thayer's MShop.

"This group consistently performed with excellence and was not afraid to fail, exemplifying the power of learning by doing, leveraged by thorough engineering analysis and testing over numerous prototype iterations," said Scott Snyder, adjunct assistant professor of engineering.

The team designed and built a simple and functional system — called "Phoenix Logs" — that converts scrap paper products into a usable fuel source, empowering users with an accessible, at-home tool to help with the problem of excess waste.

"Excess waste is a problem threatening ecosystems across the globe, however, recycling systems are not performing as intended, with less than 20 percent of global waste actually being recycled. The inefficiency of recycling systems has left consumers feeling disengaged, so we created a product that allows consumers to take recycling into their own hands," the team reported. "Phoenix Logs reduces the burden on overwhelmed municipal recycling centers while the resulting firewood creates value for users."

The Phillip R. Jackson Award Jackson Award is given each term based on the following criteria:

• Societal importance of the selected problem,
• User-centered design considerations,
• Sophistication of the design and degree of difficulty,
• Functionality and testing of the prototype,
• Holistic approach to the engineering design process, and
• Consistent outstanding performance on both written and oral milestones.

"Selecting the recipient for the Jackson Award is often a difficult decision, and it was especially difficult this term. All the teams accomplished so much, despite the obstacles of a delayed return to campus, limited access to facilities, remote communications, protracted materials procurement, and a sudden lockdown during the critical home stretch of the term, among other pandemic-related challenges. Nevertheless, the students proved incredibly resilient and resourceful, and every team succeeded at developing a project that impressed the Review Board with ingenuity and technical merits," said Snyder.

Jackson was a former member of the Thayer School Board of Advisors.

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