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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette professor, students create online water conservation calculator

Marquette faculty and students have started a new social media site that helps home and business owners keep track of water usage. Photo by Maritna Ibanez/ [email protected]

McGee Young, Marquette political science professor, and local programmer David Snopek with a team of undergraduate and graduate students recently launched a social entrepreneurship program in Milwaukee named H2OScore, which seeks to solve the problems of water awareness through the use of current web data and social media sites.

The idea was born when Young challenged his students to think about problem-solving strategies related to fresh water but found they lacked basic understanding regarding the issue.

“I had a hypothesis that Marquette students would be excited about incorporating a class project into an issue that can really make a difference,” Young said.

Students involved in the program, like Lydia Bruegge, a graduate of the College of Business Administration, said the initiative began spring semester 2011 in Young’s water politics class, which was comprised of 25 students.

“I loved McGee’s class and thought that this was an issue that won’t be going away anytime soon. It’s our duty to preserve the resources we have for future generations,” Bruegge said.

H2OScore is one of the only social entrepreneurship programs offered for college students throughout the nation, Young said.

To fund H20Score, Young paid primarily out-of-pocket because he felt it was a cause that would generate motivation for change. However, since then, donations have served to extend the longevity of the program.

While H2OScore was once mainly comprised of working graduating seniors, Young is convinced the initiative will live on to see more students jump at the opportunity.

Young said creating an efficient website was also important to the success and recruitment of the project.

“We wanted to create a tool that was simple, yet effective to raise awareness of water issues currently and potentially upcoming,” Bruegge said. “Project H2OScore and was born.”

Bruegge said the original website was not aesthetically pleasing, which consequently drove the team to find David Snopek, an experienced programmer, to build a functioning — and more appealing — site by the semester’s close.

The web page name — H2OScore — is derived from a system in which homeowners, business owners and others are provided with pertinent data and numbers concerning their water consumption and how to maintain resource sustainability.

The web page hosts an interactive setup allowing users to subscribe to the H2O blog to learn more about the initiative and even gauge their own efficiency by taking test which questions household size and typical water consumption.

“People are always shocked how much water they use,” Young said. “The average person uses 100 gallons per day.”

Bruegge said H2OScore uses multiple media to deliver their message to the public including meeting with the Milwaukee Water Council and other groups to promote conserving water.

The program has further expanded on Marquette’s campus as Young announced on one video interview that many students participated in H20Score’s business interest while involved in Marquette’s Entrepreneurship Week earlier this year.

“I think at Marquette specifically we can be really good at this sort of thing,” Young said. “We have a great faculty, great students and are generally comprised of people who want to make a difference and make things better.”

Bruegge echoed Young’s statement in saying her passion to make change and inform the public has made her experience at H2OScore.

“Being a part of a start-up atmosphere has been something really new for me,” Bruegge said. “Seeing other people also get excited about something you firmly believe in — and in return want to help your idea and business grow — is really rewarding.”

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