NCSSM-Durham's Team UniVent has made it to the finals of the Earth Prize competition. Team members are, left to right: George Cheng, faculty sponsor Larry Myers, Reichen Schaller, Shubhan Bhattacharya, and Sumedh Kotrannavar. (photo provided by Larry Myers)

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NCSSM-Durham team among 10 finalists in global Earth Prize competition

A team of NCSSM-Durham students called UniVent has been named one of 10 team finalists in the 2024 Earth Prize competition, an annual, global environmental sustainability competition for high school students between the ages of 13 and 19. Teams from more than 800 schools across 117 countries and territories participated in the competition.

As members of UniVent, juniors Shubhan Bhattacharya and Sumedh Kotrannavar collaborated with seniors George Cheng and Reichen Schaller on a project called FloodGate, an accessible and cost-effective web-based application that utilizes geographic elevation data and AI to create an interactive 3D model to predict the susceptibility of at-risk communities and critical infrastructure to flooding. FloodGate aims to mitigate loss of life and property by alerting these communities in advance and by providing accurate information to emergency responders and relief organizations.

The top team and three runners-up will be announced on Earth Day, Monday, April 22. The winning team will receive a prize of $50,000, to be split in half between the team and their school while the three runner-up schools will be awarded $12,500. There will also be awards for the Educator of the Year and the Mentor of the Year who helped the students refine their projects. 

“This is a very impressive achievement,” says Larry Myers, NCSSM instructor of engineering and UniVent’s faculty sponsor. “I can’t complement these students enough on the work they’ve done on this project.”