Mega Project: Sustainable Living
Belgium Campus iTversity has embarked on a new virtual international collaboration project with PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Belgium) and Fontys University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands). The project, titled Mega Project: Sustainable Living, is a semester long collaboration which challenges students from across the globe to engineer solutions around sustainable living.
About the Project
Participating students will work in groups with international peers from a range of faculties on overarching innovation projects. The projects will address sustainable living challenges in the areas of waste management and smart cities, with a specific focus on the SDGs. By exposing students to multicultural course content and multidisciplinary innovation, the project aims to promote the innovation and leadership skills needed to drive real change in our increasingly complicated world.
“There is a need for global competence and job-ready graduates who understand the complex environment they are entering. Although knowledge is important, possessing the skills, attitudes and behaviours needed to thrive in today’s world is even more important. We need to be able to make connections, even in the virtual world, in order to create respect and understanding, and collaboratively create and critically evaluate sustainable and relevant solutions.” – Belgium Campus CEO, Enrico Jacobs.
Kick-Off Event and Challenges Earlier this month, a virtual kick-off event was held to mark the official launch of the project. The event gave participating students an opportunity to meet their international peers and provided a platform for the presentation of the sustainable living challenges they will be working together to address. The challenges, which were presented by representatives from each of the participating organisations, include:
Waste Management Challenge
Presented by Technology Innovations Agency HOD, Senisha Moonsamy and Elula Group South Africa Director, Alvero Mpofu.
Students are challenged to ideate, research and prototype a localised, socially inclusive solution that addresses the negative effect increased urbanisation has on waste management. The solution must move away from the unsustainable wase management method of landfill disposal and instead focus on waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery. Students are encouraged to adopt a technological approach, using trending technologies like AI and IoT, to develop solutions which are not only feasible but are also leading and distinct.
Air Quality Challenge
Presented by Boekel Ecovillage Founder, Ad Vlems.
Students are tasked with creating an AI application that will help maintain a healthy environment within the eco-homes in this community. To achieve this, the app must be capable of consolidating information from existing air quality sensors within the homes, weather forecasts, health tables and user preferences, in order to suggest actions that will keep air quality at an optimum. Students must also keep security and user privacy in mind during the development process.
Energy Transition Challenge
Presented by OpenRemote CEO, Pierre Kil.
Students must design software tools that will allow for the development of an off-grid energy management system. The tools created must optimise the management of renewable energy by predicting and creating a balance between production and consumption. This can be achieved with the use of a smart energy storage device which participating students are also challenged to design.
In addition to the industry partner representatives and students and staff from the participating institutions, the event was also attended by Dr. Ayodele Odusola, the Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme in South Africa. Dr. Odusola gave an insightful speech highlighting the importance of the SDGs, and a project such as this, in realising the UNDP’s goal to achieve an inclusive, just and sustainable future for all.
“This initiative is shifting the frontier of market-ready graduates by aligning theory with practical skills and labour market context. I strongly believe that the students who benefit from this initiative will be the drivers of future innovations that lead us in the right direction.