Xuanya “Bill” Zhang Takes 2nd Place in IIE Student Technical Paper Competition

June 12, 2012

Zhang's paper, "A Feasibility Study of Biodiesel Plant in Cartago, Costa Rica,” was a report on an Interactive Qualifying Project conducted at the Costa Rica IQP Project Center.

Industrial Engineering student Xuanya “Bill” Zhang ’13 authored a paper that took second place in the Institute of Industrial Engineering (IIE) Undergraduate Student Technical Paper Competition at the IIE Conference in Orlando, Fla. on May 22 and 23.

His paper, “A Feasibility Study of Biodiesel Plant in Cartago, Costa Rica,” was a report on an Interactive Qualifying Project conducted at the Costa Rica IQP Project Center, and was one of 10 papers from 10 IIE chapters across the United States,  Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

The Reventazón River in the province of Cartago, Costa Rica has become polluted by waste oil. COMCURE, an environmental management agency, and five municipalities within Cartago wish to build a plant to process this waste oil into biodiesel. Zhang’s project team investigated economic, social and environmental impacts the plant may have through a cost-benefit analysis, site assessments, and research. They  concluded that the plant would be profitable, accepted by the public and should be implemented at a site in the community of Oreamuno.

 “We did research, on-site analysis and observations, utilized the national topography office’s maps and other personal contact/interview with local experts,” Zhang said. “It was a great experience for me and my team. It could best embody the “Theory and Practice” of the WPI motto.”

In March, Bill won first prize in the Institute of Industrial Engineers’ Northeast Region Student Technical Paper competition at the Rochester Institute of Technology, qualifying him to compete in the national competition in Orlando. The competition is a great way for IIE Northeast Region students to share their research with faculty, company representatives and peers, and Bill’s accomplishment is great exposure for the Industrial Engineering program at WPI.

Papers may either be projects completed in industry, or undergraduate research projects. Last year Maggie Liu won a different paper competition at the national level. This marks the second year in a row our students have represented WPI at this national conference for Industrial Engineers.

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