MALVERN, Pa., July 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Ricoh USA, Inc. today announced that Paul R. Gauvreau of Canyon Crest Academy in California has won this year's Ricoh Sustainable Development Award (RSDA) and associated $10,000 scholarship at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2017. The award program, bestowed by Ricoh for the 13th consecutive year, honors students who develop innovations that strengthen environmental sustainability. Gauvreau won for inventing a self-pollination device that increases pollination efficiency by nearly 2,000 percent by mimicking bees' vibration for pollination – an incredibly timely innovation in an era when the honeybee population is in crisis.
"Environmental sustainability is about ensuring a bright future, and no one is more invested in the future than the youth," said John Brophy, Vice President, Product Marketing, Ricoh USA, Inc. "Ricoh is proud to support innovators like Paul R. Gauvreau, who are working hard to help ensure a sustainable future for all of us. The declining bee population is a major issue, which could have a devastating impact on food supplies worldwide, and Paul's invention could significantly help efforts to avert that crisis. We are glad to play a role in empowering tomorrow's technology leaders to work smarter by starting to save the world today."
Gauvreau won this award at Intel ISEF, the world's largest international pre-college science competition. The Society for Science & the Public program, established in 1950, includes more than 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions and territories, who present their independent research in competition for approximately $4 million in awards.
Gauvreau's project reflects the Biodiversity Conservation and Pollution Prevention of the four pillars of Ricoh Sustainable Environment Management. Additionally, his research directly addresses sustainability in food supplies and farming at a global level. The decline of the honey bee population and its resulting impact on pollination are pervasive global issues that threaten human health and population growth, food supplies, local and global economies, and biodiversity conservation.
While the self-pollination device offers a high return on pollination efficiency, it has a low barrier to being implemented and can easily be deployed by modifying readily available materials like an off-the-shelf mega-copter or drone. This scalability is especially important for small farmers, who can use the invention at a cost that is relatively low when compared with the massive loss of their investment in honeybees or the cost of traditional, expensive agricultural equipment and fertilizer. Farmers who have seen the invention have embraced it, solidifying that it is as useful as it is novel.
The winning project stood out in a crowded field of 455 thoughtful submissions from student researchers around the world. From this vast pool, nine interview candidates were selected. With a winning combination of ingenuity, impact and real-world viability, Gauvreau joins the ranks of more than 30 students whose projects have been honored throughout 13 years of the RSDA program, which has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships.
"Innovations made without an eye on sustainability can be a double-edged sword," said Megha Vyakaranam, who won an RSDA scholarship in 2016. "Had we checked the biodegradability of plastic during its invention, or had we included ways to neutralize fumes during coal combustion designs in the first place, we wouldn't be working today to fix the damages they have caused over the years. It is critical that innovators incorporate sustainability into their designs early on. Fortunately, Ricoh encourages this kind of thinking. In fact, Ricoh has inspired me to apply sustainability and responsibility not only within my research, but also in my community. I have founded a club at my school that engages students to help build more green and energy-efficient housing."
The RSDA is an integral part of Ricoh's mission to impress the importance of a sustainable society on the next generation, as part of Ricoh's four pillars of sustainable environmental management: energy conservation, resource conservation and recycling, pollution prevention and biodiversity conservation. Beyond the RSDA, Ricoh strives for sustainability in a number of ways, including working to minimize its environmental impact from resource extraction, energy consumption, chemical discharges, emissions and other activities.
Ricoh is committed to empowering digital workplaces. The company recently was named an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for the second year in a row and implemented a solar array at its West Caldwell, New Jersey corporate facility. This array is slated to produce 555 fewer metric tons of CO2 per year and $1.9 million in energy savings over the next 10 years. At a global level, Ricoh recently set its goal of 100 percent reliance on renewable energy to be realized by 2050, becoming the first Japanese company to join the RE100, a collaborative, global initiative of influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. Through an array of carbon-reduction programs, Ricoh has reduced energy consumption 6.3 percent, cut CO2 emissions 7 percent and increased its CO2 reduction contribution 14.7 percent.
Ricoh's investment in students' futures have provable, real-world effects, as seen in the case of 2015 RSDA recipient Ethan Novek
"The Ricoh award helped pay my patent and startup expenses, including the costs for my recently granted utility patent (US 9,624,111) and seven other patents," said Novek. "Since winning the award, continuing work on my winning project has been my primary focus. The now-patented technology was deemed an unprecedented technology and mechanism to capture CO2 using 90 percent less energy than existing processes. In addition to being awarded a U.S. patent and starting my own company since winning the RSDA, I have chosen to attend Yale University, where I will major in chemical engineering."
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Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services enabling individuals to work smarter. For more than 80 years, Ricoh has been driving innovation and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2017, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,028 billion yen (approx. 18.2 billion USD).
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