The School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas and a nonprofit -- Compatible Technology International -- have launched a "Peace Engineering" contest. The partners seek teams of two to three people to design, build and deliver a breadfruit-drying device to the Breadfruit Institute, a subdivision of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii, in March.
The goal: develop a drying device that will increase the fruit's shelf life so that more of it can be milled into a gluten-free flour.
Breadfruit is an underutilized staple, recognized for its potential to provide food security in tropical regions. One breadfruit tree produces, on average, 200 fruits per season -- a higher yield per acre than wheat and corn. The fruit, named for its bread-like fragrance, is high in carbohydrates and nutritional value.
"Tropical island nations are getting more populous, and islands also have limited land space ... not conducive to growing wheat or corn," said Camille George, an associate professor in the School of Engineering at St. Thomas."if these designs work ... it could impact many people."
"There are other dryers in the world -- that are big, bulky and permanent -- but we hope this one will be innovative in its simplicity.''
The winning design will be introduced in Jamaica and Haiti to increase food security and to promote small business ventures and stimulate local economies. Contact George at cmgeorge(at)stthomas.edu. Final dryer designs must be submitted by Feb. 1 to: University of St. Thomas, Peace Engineering Initiative, School of Engineering OSS 100, 2115 Summit Av., St. Paul, MN 55105.
The first- and second-place teams will get a $3,000 and $500 prize, respectively. The winner also will get a trip to Hawaii in March to demonstrate the prototype.
reprinted from 8 Jan 2012 Minneapolis Star Tribune