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Engineering student team takes third place in national competition

WOOTA, the winning team of the School of Engineering & Applied Science’s 2016 Discovery Competition, recently placed third in the Engineering World Health (EWH)/Tensentric Design Competition.

WOOTA (Water Out Of Thin Air), is the fourth Washington University team since 2012 to place in the top three in the EWH Design Competition. A third-place finish brings the team a $500 cash prize and an invitation to present posters about their work at the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) annual meeting in October, where they will receive their award.

The students who make up the team are:

  • Kailin Baechle, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering
  • Zach Bluestein, a junior majoring in systems science & engineering
  • Sydney Katz, a junior majoring in electrical engineering and applied science
  • Nikhil Patel, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering and computer science
  • Two students, Anna Noronha, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering, and Harold Zhu, a junior majoring in systems science & engineering and economics & strategy, were on the team in the 2015-16 academic year.

The team’s design is for a device that turns humidity in the area into clean drinking water. It is designed for developing countries where clean water is scarce. The team is tweaking their current prototype design and maximizing the efficiency of the device with plans to make connections with nonprofit organizations that could help with implementation.

Previous WashU winning teams were:

  • 2014: ZnDermal: A Transdermal Zinc Delivery System, first place

  • 2013: Electroluminescence Biliblanket, first place

  • 2012: Low-Cost Spirometer, first place.

The Low-Cost Spirometer project developed into SparoLabs, which received FDA approval for its Wing spirometer earlier this year.

In the 2016 Discovery Competition, WOOTA received $20,000 in cash and $5,000 in legal services from the law firm Polsinelli.


The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.


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