Emilie Rusch

Cornerstone Design challenges students to improve outcomes in human-wildlife interfaces

Spring 2020 winners Lil' Critters propose optimized light trap for mosquito collection

As the world’s population continues to grow and expand into previously untamed territories, the number of interactions between people and wildlife will only increase — often to the detriment of one or both parties.

But what if human endeavors could thrive at the same time as wildlife and their habitats? That was the question tackled by Mines students in the Spring 2020 Cornerstone Design Competition, which held its final pitch competition virtually in light of COVID-19.

Rendering of Lil Critters Light Trap

Winning the semester-long design challenge – and the $1,000 grand prize – was a solution to optimize mosquito collection in order to improve identification accuracy and reduce the threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

Lil’ Critters’ mosquito trap improved on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention light trap design that has not been updated since the 1960s, adding better power management, portability and capture ability. Forming the winning team were Kelsey d'Etienne, Carolyn Queen, Tamia Hainesworth, Paige Vasquez-Housley and Elena Orendain.

Second place and $500 went to JMEAP, which tackled the detrimental impacts on aquatic life near Diamond Creek, Arizona, caused by sediment pollution in the Colorado River by proposing an artificial vertical riparian zone and fish nursery. Team members were Payton Rehl, Matthew McCormick, Erin Taggert, Jet Rostykus and Ayla Carignan.

Third place and $250 went to Upstream Advocates, whose adjusting rock ramp aims to allow fish passage through man-made whitewater parks at any flow depth. Team members were Alexander Bahro, Ryan Wall, Grace Waters, Matthew Humphreys and Bradley Gunther.

Upstream Advocates also won the SME Award, a special prize given by the semester’s subject matter experts from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Nature Conservancy, Pinyon Environmental Inc. and Jefferson County Open Space.

Runner-up for the SME Award was Ocean’s 5 (Carolina Cisneros, Mitchell Lensing, Andrew Larson, Joseph Eriqat and Ben Souik).

Required for all Mines undergraduates, Design I is a semester-long course whose centerpiece is an open-ended design problem that students must solve as part of a team effort. The final competition pits the top project idea from each class section against each other.

Emilie Rusch

Emilie Rusch

Director of Communications
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.