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  • Xylem Ignite: Empowering passionate student leaders to drive real changes in the water industry

Xylem Ignite: Empowering passionate student leaders to drive real changes in the water industry

May 06 2021

Water impacts our lives every day, from meeting our personal needs to influencing the global economy and the well-being of our planet. Factors like climate change, pollution and ageing infrastructure threaten global water supplies and water security. Xylem Ignite invites students in high school, undergraduate, or equivalent, to be a part of the solution.

Through a series of activities, Xylem aims at creating a movement to enrol, ignite and nurture the NextGen Water Leaders, leveraging on their passion about sustainability, creativity and command in technologies to drive innovation, helping to solve together one of the greatest challenges of our time: Water. The objectives of Xylem Ignite are:

Enroll: Reach out and build a network of NextGen water leaders leveraging existing and new partnerships with schools, youth organizations and water sustainability associations.

Ignite: Engage students in our Xylem Ignite activities to deepen their knowledge and passion for solving water issues.

Nurture: Nurturing students to become leaders in their communities to drive the water movement.

All students, especially high school (secondary school, pre-university) and college (university, post-secondary) students that are passionate about sustainability and desire to be water leaders in their communities, as well as youth groups such as water clubs, environment/recycling clubs, computing clubs, community service/interact clubs, and teachers, principals, and educators are very welcome to enrol.

Xylem Solve, where Xylem organizes and delivers activities, programs & event competitions that bring encouragement, motivation and technical training to students, specifically focusing on hackathons and innovation challenge competitions, as well as on MasterClass programmes.

Watermark for Youth, to raise awareness and educate on water related issues, engaging youth in volunteer work that impacts our communities. Students will have a chance to create and be part of a water-passionate network, while making a real impact in their communities. A watermark t-shirt will be delivered to all participants both for the online or off line events.

Innovation Incubator, that leverages on coaching and mentorship opportunities, to build a network and gain industry exposure. It is for high school and college age students that have an existing innovation or research project they would like to utilize Xylem mentorship to further develop. Xylem Ignite Incubator program is intended to support students’ projects with Xylem expertise, coaching, and network building.

One example of the three program pillars is the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge (belonging to Xylem Solve, 1st Pillar) that aims to boost youth’s passion for technology and sustainability.

Xylem Ignite invites students in high school, undergraduate, or equivalent, to be a part of the solution to global water issues

The Innovation Challenge is a global virtual competition open to participants between 13 and 23 years with a passion for technology and sustainability, to tackle one of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges: water.

Students will have to develop innovative solutions to address a problem statement of their choice among four options. The competition challenges students to use problem-solving, creativity and strategic thinking abilities to solve real-world water challenges. Projects can be a technical solution, a business solution, a community or policy solution, or a combination of the three, depending on students’ skills and interest.

Participants’ projects should focus on one of four challenge statements: (1) Reducing the water footprint of everyday products, (2) Gaming for water with EarthEcho, (3) Urban flood prediction, and (4) What if you lived on Mars? Let us look in more detail and what the creators of the Innovation Challenge came up with to put young minds to work.

Challenge Statement #1 – Reducing the water footprint of everyday products

Many of us have never considered how much water is used to produce everyday products. Consider this: what water footprint does your favourite product leave behind? How much water is involved in the process, production and creation of these items? Are your favourite products created with water conservation or sustainability in mind?

We leverage on the students’ passion about sustainability, creativity and command in technologies to drive innovation

Participants will analyse the life-cycle water consumption, including the sourcing, manufacturing, production, and marketing processes, of one of the following consumer products: a smartphone, a leather bag or shoes, an electric car, or another product of their choice. They then have to develop a solution to reduce the water footprint of the selected product or one of its components. Finally, they will analyse the benefits of your solutions to the consumer, manufacturer, seller, and community.

Challenge Statement #2 – Gaming for water with EarthEcho

Do you have a passion for games? The EarthEcho Water Challenge is one of the world’s largest community science programs empowering more than 1.6 million young people and community members in 146 countries to connect with and protect their local waterways. If they choose this challenge statement, students have to create a game to bring more awareness to this cause and engage community members.

Challenge Statement #3 – Urban flood prediction

As extreme weather and rain events become more frequent due to climate change, waterways and drainage systems can become overloaded by an influx of water. This results in flooding that can potentially cause massive property damage and even loss of life. The problem intensifies in urban environments with dense population and infrastructure. It is imperative for us to have better solutions to predict and manage floods. • Those engaged in this challenge will examine datasets – including rainfall, snowfall, temperature, humidity, weather events, surface elevation, sewer depths and flow from sensors installed in sewers – to predict flood event occurrence and sewer system peak depth by creating models utilizing AI/ML or other appropriate technology. They will have to create marketable applications that may include enhancing public engagement and awareness or infrastructure planning.

Challenge Statement #4 – What if you lived on Mars?

The world held its breath on February 18, 2021, as the Perseverance rover made its risky landing in Jezero Crater. It is believed that three and a half billion years ago, streams of water flowed across this wide expanse of dust and rocks. 

The world needs young people’s passion, creativity to drive innovation, including the digital transformation of the water sector

Mars has long captivated our collective imaginations – offering the tantalizing possibility to find life in another world or to explore it ourselves. The ability to harness water on Mars is critical to the success of potential human exploration. Mars is known to have water present in various forms above and below its surface, and extraction concepts already exist today. • The challenge here is to support a water system for the first Mars City. Participants will create a solution to enable smarter and more successful production, reuse, monitoring or allocation of water.

The projects will be assessed based on three criteria: (1) impact, (2) innovation and (3) challenge fit and feasibility. Participants will compete for eight cash prizes from a $20,000 prize pool. Details of the event, including the official rules, project deliverables, can be found at the web.

Also, stay tuned for the upcoming Xylem ignite events following @xylemspain.

Learning and education is a big part of the Innovation Challenge. In connection with the challenge, Xylem has teamed up with experts in the field from industry and academia to offer a Water MasterClass, a series of engaging video classes to learn about a range of important water topics from water sustainability to design thinking. Students will learn about global water challenges and solutions through 10 episodes.

In addition to the Water MasterClass series, participants can take part in a series of webinars each of them focuses on a specific challenge statement:

Introduction to Digital Water. Challenge Statement #3, Urban flood prediction

What makes a product sustainable? Tour Xylem’s manufacturing facility in Emmaboda. Challenge Statement #1, Reducing the water footprint of everyday products.

Hear about current research and efforts for bringing humanity to Mars with Vera Mulyani, CEO and Founder of Mars City Design. Challenge Statement #4, What if you lived on Mars?

Water quality and climate change community engagement with EarthEcho founder Philippe Costeau and Rayan Krishnan. Challenge Statement #2, Gaming for water with EarthEcho.

Xylem, a leading global water technology company, is the company behind this exciting competition for students. As global water challenges intensify – scarcity, resilience to climate change, affordability – Xylem believes it is essential to involve passionate people from an early age, to be part of the movement to solve those water challenges together. The water sector gives young people the chance to work at the nexus of sustainability and advanced technologies; in fact, there has never been a more exciting time to work in water.

Committed to meeting the world’s water and wastewater needs through innovative and smart technology solutions, the company dreamed up Xylem Ignite, an overarching scheme targeting youth. It aims to build a network of passionate student leaders and empower them to drive change in the water industry. Through a series of activities, including the Global Student Innovation Challenge, but also others such as hackathons, an incubator, mentorship and volunteer programmes, etc., Xylem seeks to enrol, ignite and nurture the next generation of water leaders. The world needs young people’s passion, creativity and command of technology to drive innovation, including the digital transformation of the water sector.

Source: Smart Water Magazine