Mechanical engineering student earns Udall Scholarship

Monday, April 06, 2009

University of Tulsa student Maria Holland, a junior mechanical engineering major from Minnesota, has been named a 2009 Udall Scholar. The Udall Scholarship funds future leaders across a wide spectrum of environmental fields, including engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, and business.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Holland plans to earn a doctoral degree in sustainable energy engineering. In her professional career, she wants to conduct research in low-technology renewable energy, teach at the university level and write textbooks.

TU has had six students receive the prestigious Udall Scholarship since 1998. The one-year scholarship covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $5,000.

Holland, a graduate from Coon Rapids Senior High School, has been very active with the TU-based student group Sustainable Energy for North Eastern Asia (SENEA) since 2006. She led a group of TU students on two summer research and service projects in 2007 and 2008 on the northern border of China to develop sustainable dwellings for shepherds.

SENEA members design and implement energy and building solutions that improve the community. Four primary projects include:

  • a compressed earth block brick press for community building projects;
  • a biogas digester that uses methane from manure to provide heat and light;
  • two wind turbines that take advantage of the area’s strong winds;
  • a passive solar oven used for making daily bread.

“The intimate connection with a community in another part of the world has given me a different perspective on domestic and international issues that I could not have gotten any other way,” Holland said in an interview about her trip.

Holland also participates in the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC), which has helped guide her ambitious international environmental projects. She has written papers on her research experience, and presented her findings at the TU Research Colloquium this spring.

Amethyst Cavallaro