Puerto Rico Students Highlight STEM Projects in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A handful of students from Puerto Rico represented the island in Washington, D.C. at the National STEM Festival. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We spoke with one of Puerto Rico’s STEM students and her project that aims to cut harmful emissions in the airline industry.  

Dolly Pramoda, a sophomore at Baldwin School of Puerto Rico in Guaynabo, walks us through her project she’s presenting at the National STEM Festival. The goal of her project is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes through algorithmic routing.  

“I come from a little island of Puerto Rico and in 2020 the Puerto Rican government implemented regulations that allowed for more transport into the island which brought many exciting opportunities considering how small of an island it is,” said Pramoda. “But when I saw that I also had to think about the environmental impacts that it would also bring. Aviation is super energy intensive and it’s one of the biggest factors causing human caused greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It contributes more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions every single year. I would see the effects firsthand with the rising sea levels and the increase in temperature.” 

By using factors like weather, aircraft weight, fuel burn curves and more, Pramoda said she’s been able to significantly cut harmful emissions while optimizing flight routes.  

“Compared to existing flights, my model delivered a net savings of 499 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, which is 3.7 percent,” said Pramoda. “And if you multiply that number by the 45-thousand flights flown every single day in the American airspace that’s gonna add up super quickly.” 

Pramoda is one of three students from Puerto Rico at this event in Washington. This festival aims to highlight the creative solutions to global challenges from students across the US and there’s no shortage of solutions, like solving freshwater issues and medical problems. There’s even projects that include worms and dog feces.  

“Coming form Puerto Rico being able to have opportunities like this from an island that generally doesn’t get these opportunities means so much to me and being able to represent my home and the place I call home and the little island that I come from means so much because I can inspire other Latina women to also pursue careers in STEM to put themselves out there,” said Pramoda.  

Pramoda hopes she can work with large airline companies to reduce emissions. By cutting emissions, it would protect her home and community, as well as the rest of the world, from the impact of harmful carbon emissions.  

“I wanted to be part of the change my little island felt but also the world felt in the aviation industry,” said Pramoda.