Global researchers drive water design competition

On April 12, 2017, Michigan State University, in partnership with the Midland Research Institute for Value Chain Creation, announced the winners of MSU's first Fountain Challenge, a design competition for cross-functional student teams that supports the university's thematic year, Water Moves MSU.

The challenge brought students of different backgrounds, passions and proficiencies together to design an innovative and dynamic public water fountain, with hopes to generate ideas that not only tackle the need for clean water, but also position the fountain as a social gathering place that encourages community unity and engagement. 

A photo of the winners of the Fountain Challenging holding their prize check for $15,000.

Students could design a fountain from one of three categories: a community fountain, a school drinking fountain or a portable emergency response fountain, each with their own unique challenges and opportunities. After top submissions from each category were selected to move on to Phase II, finalists competed for first, second and third place. 

"This competition reminded us that the water fountain has fallen behind the times in America," said competition juror, Charles Fishman, "these students used research, their own experience, humor and fresh sensibility to deliver imaginative and insightful ideas that were functional, but also made you smile."

First place, and a $15,000 cash prize, went to Caleb Whetstone, Kenzo Bird and Adam Anderson of the Great Lakes Fountain team for their community fountain design, created for the City of East Lansing. Featuring a contemporary design, their fountain contains several elements that embrace both art and sustainability, including a concrete slab base with a blue mosaic inlay of the Great Lakes, three button-activated stainless steel fountain bowls and a solar panel above the fountain to provide shade. Their design advocates for safe drinking water while also educating about the importance of renewable resources in preserving the quality of the Great Lakes. 

Second place was awarded to Alonzo Bell, Nicola Chidyaonga and Armstrong Nangewei of the Midland Vision team for their community fountain design, and third place went to Nick Mikaelsavage, Garett Knowlton and Elizabeth Martin of the Friendly Fountain team for their school drinking fountain design. 

All projects were evaluated for their creativity, innovation, team preparation, feasibility and anticipated community impact. 

"I was amazed at the work presented by these students," said Dr. Joan B. Rose, Co-Director of MSU's Center for Water Sciences and Stockholm Water Prize recipient, "their energy and effort was truly fantastic, bringing diversity to the designs and working together to create unique fountains. If I could, I would build every single one." 

MSU's Fountain Challenge was made possible by the generous support from the following sponsors: Delta Dental, Office of the Great Lakes, Linda Demmer, NTH Consultants, LTd. and the Homer Nowlin Fund for Water Research.