The Inventor

Joshua Nelson, graduate student in mechanical engineering technology from Lafayette, Indiana.

His vision: To develop technologies that use less energy or use existing energies in novel or more efficient ways.

How he's making it happen: For some, green transportation means driving a hybrid vehicle or riding a bike. But for Joshua, his love of the environment means taking things into his own hands — literally. A few years ago, he took a 1998 VW Beetle and converted the diesel engine to run on used vegetable oil he acquired free from a local restaurant. After selling that car, he took some of the profits to purchase materials for his latest creation, a 1983 Mazda RX-7 that he converted to run on electricity, using an electric motor. He drives his green machine to school nearly every day. Joshua's research is green, too. His thesis is on piezoelectric generation. He hopes to prove that lost voltage that is generated by stressed or vibrating materials can be captured for other uses.

His abiding principle: A former middle school English teacher, his career change was prompted in part by a love for the earth: "We are expected to take care of what we are given and use our talents and ability to do something to help."

By Kim Delker