A team of students from Marine Academy of Science & Technology in Highlands won the 2023 Sustainability Challenge after designing a remote-controlled environmental monitoring drone. — Courtesy: Sustainable Jersey City/Solar Landscape
By Joshua Burd
Three students from Marine Academy of Science & Technology in Highlands earned first place in the Green Ambassador Program Sustainability Challenge, a nationwide program sponsored by the nonprofit Sustainable Jersey City and solar developer Solar Landscape.
According to a news release, the winning team of Aiden Mumm, Tyler Smolensky and Dylan Agnese designed a remote-controlled drone meant to take water samples, reducing the need for using boats to conduct environmental monitoring. The M.A.S.T. representatives were among 360 students across the country enrolled to participate, securing the top spot ahead of a student at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois, whose project raised awareness of toxic heavy metals in the soil.
“We are so encouraged by the innovation and energy that this year’s Sustainability Challenge submissions demonstrated,” said Debra A. Italiano, founder and chair of Sustainable Jersey City. “Fighting climate change and creating a more sustainable, resilient future will be a hallmark of the generation emerging from today’s schools. These students have identified real-world problems and tackled them with ingenuity and hope.”
A panel of judges from Sustainable Jersey City and Solar Landscape selected the winning projects, the news release said. The solar developer, which is based in Asbury Park, launched the Sustainability Challenge as part of its Green Ambassador Program aimed at promoting sustainability education and the development of high school students across the U.S. who are seeking to create change within their communities.
Notably, the program offers students a chance to learn about energy, policy, careers, business strategies and environmental issues through a series of prerecorded webinars.
“Our future depends on looking at pressing problems in new ways,” said Shaun Keegan, Solar Landscape’s CEO and co-founder. “These projects serve as an educational opportunity today and a proving ground for tomorrow’s leaders in clean energy and fighting climate change. Congratulations to this year’s scholarship winners and many thanks to Sustainable Jersey City for their partnership.”
Marine Academy Principal Earl Moore and teachers Wendy Green and Samantha Moorzitz advised the winning team from the school.
“Today’s winning teams are great examples of the leadership and creativity that M.A.S.T. strives to teach,” Moore said. “We’re proud of our students for their unique solutions to challenges that face our global community and appreciate the energy and guidance of our teachers.”