The challenge, which connects university students, businesses and organisations on issues linked to SDGs, was first launched in the Netherlands’ cities of Amsterdam and Maastricht. The Cape Town challenge ran for six weeks and teams, consisting of five members each, were required to act as consultants in providing sustainable solutions to assigned clients.
UWC’s client was Burgan Cape Terminal, a company focused on the energy industry. They receive, store and distribute fuel within South Africa and their vision is to lead the greenest and safest terminals in South Africa.
The UWC team was tasked with finding a solution for their client’s beneficiary, Little Lions in helping 8-13-year-olds continue their education at home despite constraints like load-shedding and a lack of data.
Interdisciplinarity was key to the success of the team, which was led by Chemical Science Master’s candidate, Evan Visser, and included Regomoditswe Moremedi (BCom), Evan Gungan (LLB), Hope Mapindani (Environmental and Water Sciences) and PhD candidate Edel Nibafu (Industrial Psychology).
Their solution, which was judged the most sustainable and viable, was a solar-powered portable desk. It provides light for the learner during load-shedding and mental stimulation through onboard games, and addresses issues of space constraints by providing a platform for the children to do their homework.
“By creating a desk we addressed their lack of workspace. We also addressed their lack of access to power with a solar-powered solution that was both environmentally friendly and easily accessible,” said Visser.
Choosing ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic as a suitable material was noteworthy. “Creating a desk for children that is not too heavy and durable was crucial to avoid breakage and constant maintenance,” said Mapindi.
And the inclusion of onboard games was added to help the children relax.
“They were taken from the curriculum which Little Lions covers and are meant to help the kids strengthen their mental health which is a vital part of their development,” said Nibafu.
Moremedi added that since their client’s beneficiary was focused on ‘changing the future of mental health’, “our solution was to empower these learners to have the ability to further their education at home.”
Her colleague Gungan said their teamwork was vital in finding the solution. “It took the ideas and views of our entire team to come up with a tech-savvy, forward-thinking solution.”
On the UWC team’s inaugural win, Professor José Frantz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “We strive to live for SDGs! Eat, sleep and breathe SDGs. It runs through our blood.”
Images courtesy Office of the DVC: Research and Innovation