Powering Pittsburgh

The Future Renewable Energy in Pittsburgh


Pittsburgh, a city with many different professional sports teams, renowned universities and a place that is known for its previous history with steel and other mechanical inventions during the industrial revolution. What is more to be had? Some may argue that the answer to this vague question is energy conservation and efficiency. Students Logan Bickerstaff, Logan Larrick, Jason Mengel, and Christopher Denkovich rose to the challenge to answer this question in the Powering Pittsburgh competitions. 

Powering Pittsburgh is a competition that incorporates all fields within STEM that allows students to create innovative ideas and put them to the test. These competitions ask students from all over Western Pennsylvania to find a cutting-edge plan to power the homes, businesses and buildings of Pittsburgh all while being energy efficient. Students are given a month to formulate their ideas and model them before they present them in front of a panel of judges. If the students triumph in the preliminary round, they will then earn the opportunity to compete again at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. 

During these competitions, the judges will grade the students on a multitude of different categories that will determine the overall grade for the teams involved. The teams will be graded by each judge on their category, environmental sustainability, their models, economic profitability, feasibility and their readiness to present their project. Each one of these individual categories will be graded out of five points, and this process will be completed by each of the four judges separately to determine the overall grade of the project per team.

On Oct. 27, these students traveled to the Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit to present their model to the first set of judges, going under the team name of “The Pittsburgh Wheelers”. Their plan revolved around the use of hydroelectric power while utilizing a water wheel. The Wheelers succeeded, with a nearly perfect score of 118/120. With this, they received a perfect score of 30/30 from three of the four judges. “It felt really good to win the first round. It is especially nice because when we did this project in middle school we did not make it past the first round. It was a good feeling of redemption. As for the project itself I really had a lot of fun working with all of my friends on a project we worked very hard to complete,” Bickerstaff said. The students were then invited to compete at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 9 in the finals. 

At the finals, the Wheelers had to face off against eight other teams from various regions in Pennsylvania. Sadly, the Wheelers did not end up on the podium for the final event, but they were championed by the judges and other event faculty as being “the future of Pittsburgh” and “innovative”.  “It felt good to think that we had a chance to win money for our school’s science department and get the opportunity to visit Acrisure Stadium,” Larrick said.