A team of three students from the Sustainable Design program in the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) won the third annual Reimagine Our Future Sustainability Competition.
UIUC students Margot O'Malley, Tom George, and Jasper Nord presented a project using coffee grounds to grow nutritious oyster mushrooms.
They analyzed environmental challenges related to sending coffee grounds to landfills in terms of emitting greenhouse gases and contaminating groundwater and soil.
This team recognized the interrelated problems of food insecurity and human health. The students piloted the solution and presented plans to expand the scope of their initiative.
Their presentation won the $2,000 grand prize.
The two second prize winners were proposals to organize organic farming in Ukraine during the war, which was presented by Iryna Maistrenko from the International Humanitarian University Odessa; and to expand farm-to-school food programs in the U.S., which was presented by Charles Wheeler, Lucas Baronello, Saharra Murphy, Caila Riggs, and Michelle Check from the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS).
Each of these teams won $1,000.
Six teams with a range of projects won $500 each for third place or special awards. Those teams and their proposals are:
· Accessible screening for preeclampsia presented by Arshia Ajmera and Keerthana Nallamotu from UIUC
· Parking lot permaculture presented by Brandon Baran, Whitney Fowler, Shiho Ito, Ada Moy, and Gwynne McGrady from UIUC
· Zero food waste presented by Karmyn Flesch, Nadia Wilson, Emily Rhodes, and Gabriela Sanchez from UIS
· Optimizing resource efficiency by digitizing receipt processes presented by Manan Sanghavi from UIUC
· Renewable energy-supported housing and opportunities for immigrants presented by Amy Jurkowski, Matthew Nowlan, Liesl Schrag, and Aiden Sup from UIUC)
· Sustainable development of the city through “green development” presented by Asadova Solmaz from the International Humanitarian University, Odessa
The Reimagine Our Future Sustainability Competition brought students, faculty, and staff in Illinois and around the world to the UIUC campus on Dec. 2.
According to a press release from competition organizers, the event aims to inspire and empower students by challenging them to ideate solutions for a more sustainable world.
Thirteen teams of students presented their projects at the award ceremony, with some urging citizens around the world to leave no one behind and others pointing to the need for consumers to drastically change their purchases.
This year, Reimagine Our Future attracted 243 students from ten higher education institutions across the world (U.S., Ukraine, Austria, Britain, China, Mexico, and South Africa) as well as in Illinois, where students from UIUC, the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Illinois Springfield, and Waubonsee Community College took part.
Over 120 volunteers, each contributing unique expertise, served as advisors, initial judges, and final judges, highlighting the collaborative nature of the event.
All participants received feedback and support for their projects through judges’ comments. Moreover, the top three teams are set to benefit from additional mentorship provided by Professor Mike Yao from UIUC's College of Media and Gies Business School and according to the press release, “this mentorship program is poised to nurture and guide the winning projects toward sustainable impact and growth.”
Professor Kelvin Droegemeier, a distinguished guest speaker at the award ceremony, congratulated the finalists and emphasized the necessity of adopting a systemic view when addressing sustainability challenges.
“The interconnections between societal, technological, and economic issues are crucial when pondering sustainability solutions,” Droegemeier said, advocating for a holistic approach to tackle the complex global challenges we face.
“The Reimagine Our Future Sustainability Competition owes its success to the vision and commitment of its founders, Professors Leon Liebenberg, Robert McKim, and Warren Lavey, who organized the event with support from the UIUC’s Student Sustainability Council (SSC), coordinated by Codie Sterner, and a group of highly energetic student assistants,” the press release reads. “The competition garnered support from various entities, including UIUC’s Center for Global Studies, Office of the Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Global Affairs & Strategies, Siebel Center for Design, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment, among others, and several sponsors.”
The focus of the competition now shifts to supporting and nurturing the winning projects, with an eye on the Fall 2024 competition, which promises to be even more substantial and impactful, according to the press release.
For Media Inquiries and Further Information:
Prof. Leon Liebenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com, (217) 300-5496