SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Students at USD are coming up with solutions to turn sea water into drinking water for individual family use, and they are doing it in an energy efficient way.

It was part of a research conference, where students presented their findings.

It started as an idea to help families in Costa Rica with no infrastructure for fresh water, and the USD engineering students took what they learned in the classroom to solve real world problems.

USD biology professor, Marie Simovich, helped start the event 25-years-ago. "We really wanted to show off our students. We wanted to say, look, these kids are great. Look what they're doing," she said.

Students worked with professors to conduct their research and tried to solve tough questions.

Lara Adamiak studied what parents know about recommended media use for young children, versus what parents allow their kids to do. Her conclusion was that parents are letting their kids use technology more than they should. Many times, for selfish reasons.

Doing research has not been enough because students need to be able to explain their project, making Thursday's research conference so important.

As for the desalination project, researchers expect the cost to be around $2,500, an affordable unit that is expected to improve lives.

Some students will present their findings nationwide, and in some cases, at nationwide research conferences.