UNESCO has announced the first winners of its Future Designer International Innovation Design Awards and Science for the Sustainable Development Goals Innovation Contest, which attracted entries from more than 1,500 teams made up of school and university students and their mentors from 48 countries. A total of 228 entries advanced to the stage of the final evaluation and 83 teams from 24 countries received awards.
The winning designs range from an air-ionising-humidifier with an indoor-air-pollutant detector to a solar-powered public bench, re-usable LED bulbs and tubes with a replaceable cartridge, and sustainable fashion in the form of bags made from ‘green’ materials that are produced using a 3D printer.
The humidifier has been developed by Ralph Benedict Capili with his mentor Evelyn Marinas from the University of Doha for Science and Technology in the Philippines. SolSeatz, the solar-powered public bench, is the brainchild of Saber Aragh and his mentor Hamid Naghd Bishi from the Pars University of Architecture and Art in Iran. Shreya Chopra and her mentor Nanita Chopra from Amity University Noida in India won a silver award for GLED, the re-usable LED bulbs and tubes. And Eszter Borsodi and her mentor Tamási Kinga from the University of Miskolc in Hungary produced the sustainable fashion.
Another team of five students from the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain designed a self-regulating nest for sea turtles that promotes an unbiased male-to-female ratio. Sea turtles dig holes in the sand in which they lay their eggs. The eggs laid closer to the surface, where the sand is warmer, will hatch as females, whereas those eggs buried deeper will become males. With climate change warming the sand, the 50:50 male–female ratio is being upended as a greater number of female turtles hatch. The team behind this design is made up of Victoria Olcina Marcos, Elsa Lacunza Arnedo, Luz Moya Ibáñez, Carmen Reina Román and Nerea Tarín Sáez. Their design won a bronze award.
About 30 per cent of the 83 teams won gold awards. Another 29 teams won silver and 29 bronze awards. Each winning team will receive a certificate.
The designs were judged by a panel of 21 experts in science, engineering art and design. Careful consideration was given to ensuring gender equality and geographical diversity, as recommended by UNESCO’s partners and its science and engineering networks.
UNESCO launched the design awards in September last year within the framework of the UNESCO–UNITRAIN Youth Competence Development Project. The awards are open to undergraduate and postgraduate students worldwide. The aim is to solicit innovative, creative works from young people around the world to raise awareness of the important role that science, technology, engineering and mathematics will play in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.