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Student's Award-Winning Design Addresses Costa Rican Waste Removal Problem

NYIT student Karen Gomez from Port Chester presented ideas for helping in one small community.

Port Chester native Karen Gomez, 21, along with teammates Karolina Kopiczko, 21, and Jessica Jardinel, 21, took part in the first ever innovative competition to address solutions to the growing waste removal problem in Nosara, Costa Rica. Sponsored by NYIT, the competition was open to NYIT students in Fall 2011 who are Architecture undergrads.

Gomez’ team, Duality, designed and presented a simple, elegant idea that focused on a recycling center and education facility. The team’s name, she said, is based around the concept that dualities exist with two opposing features. “The middle ground between the recycling center and the education center makes it run efficiently and effectively,” she said.

She and her teammates are in their fourth of five years in the Bachelor of Architecture program at NYIT. Having grown up in Port Chester, Gomez said that it is always important to stay on top of schoolwork.

“Port Chester is a small community,” she said. “Everyone knows each other. No matter what you end up majoring in college, it is important to have the support of parents and teachers, but to also do more.”

She took the opportunity to ‘do more’ by going abroad for a semester in the summer.

“My teammates went to Finland, and I went to Israel,” she said. “This allowed me to work on the competition in the fall because I had a semester off.”

It was the hands-on experience that helped her to stay involved in her curriculum, she said.

“I personally find the field of architecture very self-rewarding. There is nothing more self-rewarding than to see your design come to fruition.”

Team Duality along with two others beat out 17 other teams who competed through November 28. She had heard initially about the competition from Professor Holler, who travels to Costa Rica frequently, and then decided to compete with her friends after learning that the winning design would be built.

The topography, climate and culture shaped the way the team created, she said.

“There is poor education on waste management,” she said. “For the waste dump that currently exists, people often just dump trash on the side of the road. We wanted to integrate education into the recycling center so that the town can be more informed on how to preserve and take care of their town.”

Recycled material will be used for building construction, with the logged trees milled down and reused on site. The team addressed the dry and wet seasons of Nosara by developing a process to collect rainwater. They incorporated high ceilings, a ventilation opening in the roof, and reflective roofing materials.

She and her eight fellow winners will travel to Costa Rica in January to further refine their concept with engineers.

“This is the biggest feeling that I’ve ever felt,” she said. “It is amazing… something that will give me motivation to give me confidence in the field.”

Aidan December 29, 2011 at 12:12 AM
Congrats Ms. Gomez ... you make everyone in Port Chester proud.

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