Change the World Challenge Winners Announced 

Group of seven

Sponsored by Bill Swanson, the Change the World Challenge, a university-wide initiative featuring multiple teams developing solutions using a systems approach, awarded $35,000 in prizes at the event on Saturday, May 7. 

This year’s Change the World Challenge theme was Solutions for Living in a Post-COVID World. Student teams spent three quarters balancing technical concerns with social, cultural, economic, historical, political and environmental implications. Through the challenge, a wide range of ideas were considered, and complicated problems required students to take many approaches to solutions, making this Change the World Challenge an interdisciplinary Learn by Doing success.

Change the World Challenge: Bill Swanson, center, Change the World Challenge founder, speaks with civil engineering student Vy Vu and communication studies student Aidan Ashworth. Judge Chuck Harrington is at left.

First place, and $20,000, was awarded to Brandon Janney (ME), Annie Kettmann (CLA) and Ahkar Kyaw (ME) for their design of a modular hydroponic approach to growing strawberries and other produce locally, cutting down on shipping costs and combating climate change.  Second Place, and $10,000, was awarded to Aidan Ashworth (CLA), Shannon Bailey (CAFES) and Vy Vu (CE) for their concept of connecting, educating and enabling an online and local community about the role of vermiculture in reducing the greenhouse gases that result from landfilling food waste and third place, and $5000, was awarded to Ashleigh Austin (CLA) for her online community vision “Maternal Voices of Color” which aims to increase access to prenatal health care in underserved communities. 

Change the World Challenge: Mechanical engineering student Ahkar Kyaw presents his project “Strawberries for a Post-COVID World.”

Run through CENG, the student challenge encourages interdisciplinary teams to take on the intersection of technology and society in a system thinking approach.  The faculty leads are Dawn Neill (CLA) and Rebekah Oulton (CENG), and the faculty mentors included Chris Kitts (CSM), Christina Firpo (CLA), Ben Lutz (CENG), Jill Speece (CENG) and Priya Verma (CAFES).

Change the World Challenge introduction by Dean Amy S. Fleischer.

Photos by Cal Poly Engineering photographer Dennis Steers.


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