Stinks No More

Essay Prompt

If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you do? (250-300 words)

Sample Essay

Thanks to my competitive figure skating career, my mom and I spend an extraordinary amount of time together. She claims there is only one thing about my skating that she can’t stand. It’s the foul odor that erupts from my skates when I take them off. If my mom is anywhere in the vicinity, she is stricken by nausea and occasionally even vomits. It would give me great satisfaction to solve the problem of my stinky skates because it would make things so much better for my mom.

I've designed an engineering project to build and test a possible solution. The root cause of the problem is straightforward. Skaters sweat - a lot - and their skates never dry out because there isn't enough time between training sessions. The odor comes from the bacteria that thrive in this moist environment.

I propose to tackle the root cause of the problem by placing a replaceable silica liner inside each skate underneath the sole and by developing a dehumidifier small enough to fit in each skate. If these two things work, then the interior of the skates is drier and fewer bacteria can form.

In addition, I propose to use an organic solution made of black tea, lemon, and baking soda to neutralize the odor from the bacteria that remains. This formula is a mix of proven "odor eliminators." The tannic acid in black tea kills the bacteria, while the lemon and baking soda act as constrictors to the bacteria.

If my project goes well, I'd no longer have stinky skates that cause my mom to suffer. And that would be a great outcome. But even better would be the possibility that I might have developed a solution that would help athletes and their supportive moms all over the world.

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