Waukon High School graduate Ryan Kolsrud among Innovation Scholarship winners from Alliant Energy

Ryan Kolsrud ...
Ryan Kolsrud ...

Twenty-five Iowa and Wisconsin high school seniors received $1,000 Innovation Scholarships from Alliant Energy. The annual scholarships, to be used for higher education expenses, reflect students’ academic achievements and outstanding leadership in their communities.

Students demonstrated leadership through community service and volunteer work, as well as academic achievement through exceptional grade point averages and test scores. Each student submitted a written essay identifying a problem in their community and proposed a creative solution using science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) concepts.

“Supporting workforce readiness and fostering young minds interested in STEM-based careers is critical to developing the future of a skilled and innovative workforce,” said Julie Bauer, Executive Director, Alliant Energy Foundation. “We are thrilled to contribute to each of these recipients’ futures.”

Among the scholarship winners was Waukon High School graduated senior Ryan Kolsrud, son of Jeremy and Jennifer Kolsrud of Waukon. The essay he submitted is included below:

The driftless area is dominated by limestone bluffs and streams that run down and between them. These streams, while small, could potentially be an untapped source of energy production that we are not using.

One solution is micro hydropower. Using the running water from the streams, we can create micro hydroelectric generators that will generate power for locals. These generators would not create vast quantities that will power a city, but much like solar, it would allow people a way to generate electricity themselves and take one more household off of an already struggling power grid.

Hydropower systems are also a lot simpler than systems such as solar or wind. This means that the maintenance can be performed easier and faster, as it would not require the need of a specialist. This simplicity also means it would be able to better weather the extreme temperatures of the upper Midwest, making it a strong candidate for power generation in areas with high amounts of streams and running water.

In conclusion, micro hydropower would allow people to generate clean, reliable, and cheap energy for long periods of time, and perform maintenance easier.