Tuesday, October 19, 2021
HomeOcean & SeaOcean PollutionHow UC's 1819 Hub generated a 'Roomba' for coastal waterways

How UC’s 1819 Hub generated a ‘Roomba’ for coastal waterways

Recent Xavier University graduate Michael Arens won’t soon forget his high school classmate’s presentation on plastic pollution during a public speaking class he took freshman year.

The presentation frustrated him. How did he barely know anything about this global catastrophe?

According to Plastic Oceans, a nonprofit sustainability company, more than 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year, or about a garbage truck load of plastic each minute. Much of this plastic stays near the coast. By 2040, the amount of plastic flowing into the Earth’s seas will nearly triple, National Geographic reported.

“I kind of became obsessed with the problem,” Arens said.

Four years later, he’s still obsessed. And he’s working on a way to fix it.

Michael Arens, CEO of Clean Earth Rovers, pulls the rover’s trash collector basket out of the water during a test at Rivertowne Marina in the East End on Thursday, September 30, 2021. Clean Earth Rovers received support from University of Cincinnati's 1819 Hub and Venture Lab, including a $40,000 grant that helped create prototypes of the Plastics Piranha.

One of Arens’ professors, Mike Halloran, said Arens came into his entrepreneurship class as a college sophomore with this idea for an ocean rover machine that would collect trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Halloran said he finds it fascinating that today’s students are greatly invested in the world around them.

“Sustainability, poverty, things of that nature are things that this generation just seems to have a greater passion for,” Halloran said.

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