Monday, January 15, 2018

URSP Student Melissa Rossi Promotes Water Conservation

My project is designing a self-sufficient rainwater harvesting and irrigation system to promote water conservation. The goals of the new system are to be environmentally friendly, efficient, easy to use, and low cost so it is accessible to every person. I named my project design VEGGIE, which stands for Very Efficient Green Garden Irrigation system for Everyone. I first got the idea for this project as I was working in the Mason Flood Hazards Research Lab. Through my work at the lab, I became programmed smart sensors to establish a smart city network on the Fairfax campus and provide real-time flood updates to the lab. I noticed, however, that while smart sensors were wonderful for water monitoring, they could be expensive and difficult to program. Because of this, the smart city was only accessible to people with time available to program the sensors or those who could afford them. At this time, I became aware of rainwater harvesting methods and other ways to manage water efficiently. These experiences motivated me to design a new system that combined the benefits of the smart sensors and rainwater harvesting in a new irrigation system that would simplify water conservation.

It is my long-term goal to enter the field of transportation engineering. In this field, it is necessary to analyze data, be attentive to detail, and be familiar with current research. During the semester, my weekly activities depended on the part of the project I was working on. At the beginning of the semester, I met with my two mentors on a weekly basis to discuss the project. Then, I spent most of the semester reading literature about existing rainwater harvesting methods, irrigation, and smart city configurations. I used this information as a guide as I went through multiple iterations of VEGGIE’s design. I analyzed rainfall data and performed soil tests to further aid my design. Although I experienced some unexpected setbacks during the research and design process, I learned how patience and perseverance will lead to success in any endeavor that I find valuable enough to pursue.