Last year, WaterFilters.NET launched The Future of Water Scholarship. For students, earning the scholarship was simple. All they had to do was answer one question: “With an increasing global population, particularly in developing countries, what would you create to help reduce water shortages, and ensure all people had nearby access to clean drinking water?”
Mona Dai, a civil and environmental engineering student at Duke University, won first place with her solution focusing on using existing mobile phone charging booths, already common in many villages, to help sanitize drinking water. As we prepare to gear up for our next scholarship program, it’s great to know that WaterFilters.NET is in good company awarding students for concepting solutions designed to improve the world.
Microsoft and Dell are among the leading tech companies that host student-based competitions encouraging young innovators to address the world’s most pressing social issues, through the yearly Dell Social Innovation Challenge and the Microsoft Imagine Cup competitions.
As an undergraduate student, I participated in the Microsoft Imagine Cup. The experience was intellectually provoking, and my team was fortunate enough to advance to the US Finals, which were held at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA. Presenting our invention – a cloud-based infant monitoring system – which monitors the heart rate, respiration rate and movement patterns of infants as they sleep at home, was an exciting opportunity.
Equally exciting was the opportunity to see first-hand the innovations of students from around the world. Such as, the CAMI (Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images), a device that allows physicians to collaborate in real time, from anywhere in the world, to save lives.
I recently checked in to see what social issues students chose to tackle this year. I was excited to see that many of this year’s competitors share our passion here at WaterFilters.NET, bringing clean drinking water to the world.
Competing in the Imagine Cup’s World Citizenship Category, Team Combine, of China, developed Water Facts. Water Facts aims to prevent water waste attributed to leakage through the use of a network of intelligent meters and sensors. Water suppliers can use the network to detect and locate leaks in real time.
Checking in at the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, I learned that Team NEER developed a water filter aimed at bringing relief to the roughly 81% of people living in India who lack access to safe water. Team NEER notes that their water filter is unique because it features coconut coir, a resource that is indigenous to India.
I was particularly inspired by Kjartan Örn Styrkársson, of Iceland. Competing in the ages 9-12 Category of the Imagine Cup’s Kodu Challenge, this young innovator developed a video game titled, Destroy the Pollution. According to Kjartan, he wants to send a message that water is important to life and should not be polluted.
Student-based competitions provide a forum for young innovators to address many of the world’s most pressing social issues. As an alumnus of these competitions, I am excited to see the continued level of passion these events help bring out in students. As a team member at WaterFilters.NET, I am comforted to know that many of these students will be focusing their passion on ensuring clean drinking water for all.
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