The Environmental Protection Agency awarded Missouri State University a $45,000 grant to fund an upcoming sustainability effort called the Pollution Prevention Project.

Missouri State applied for the recurring grant in March 2019 and was awarded in September 2020. 

“It fits well MSU’s sustainability efforts,” said Doug Neidigh, project co-manager and sustainability coordinator at MSU. 

The Pollution Prevention Project is managed by the Missouri State University Sustainability program and the Missouri S&T Engineering program. Students will be trained to evaluate different companies’ production processes to find ways to reduce their waste and save money. 

The team will then present their evaluations to the company. It is up to the company to actually implement these recommendations. Small to midsize companies should take the team a day to analyze, while larger companies may take a few days to fully examine their processes. 

“We are excited for this opportunity for students,” Neidigh said.

The team will be regularly reporting to the EPA about their progress, and the impacts on waste reduction or gallons of water were saved. 

The $45,000 will likely cover travel costs and supplies to evaluate companies. The grant will also help fund a graduate assistantship, according to Neidigh. 

Neidigh said the project is currently in the marketing and recruiting phase. There are no prerequisites or qualifications needed to join the Pollution Project. However, those joining the team need to be willing to invest time out of their schedule to visit different facilities. 

Estela Fernandez-Cabana, graduate assistant with the Sustainability program at MSU, said the project will help the university and our planet, while providing students with competitive work experience. 

“I believe this project and grant are both a great opportunity for students to improve their academic curriculum, but also to get involved at a greater level with such an important cause,” Fernandez-Cabana said. 

She said she hopes she will be able to take what she learns through her assistantship and work with the Pollution Prevention Project to live her life more sustainably.  

Sanjay Tewari, engineering professor at Missouri S&T and co-project manager said he is looking forward to helping students identify pollution sources in real companies. 

“This is a unique opportunity for us, and especially students,” Tewari said.  

Tewari said there are already around five or six students who are interested in working on the project.

If the project is successful, Tewari said they will likely work to expand their partnership to more universities or programs sometime in the future.