Published: 16 July 2019

Surrey announced UK champions ahead of Global Grand Challenges Summit 2019

A team of chemical engineering students from Surrey has won a Royal Academy of Engineering competition to find the most innovative solutions to global challenges, and is now set to compete on the international stage.

The team of undergraduates will be one of five to represent the UK at the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2019 in London in September, which will bring together world leaders with the next generation of engineers, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers.

To win the UK competition, which is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, students were challenged to come up with an answer to the question ‘Can we sustain 10 billion people?’ Surrey’s team – Ishanki De Mel, Nikolina Pieri, John Azurin, Clement Ibeh and Zarif Shafiei – focused on a solution for reducing post-harvest storage losses in developing countries, contributing towards a vision of ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2050. Their winning idea was a post-harvest storage network (essentially like an Airbnb for grains) which can be implemented via a Progressive Web Application (PWA).

Ishanki says: “To develop our idea, we worked as a team, recognised our strengths and skills, and supported one another to continuously improve and evolve our initial idea.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to broaden our perspectives and meet individuals who are passionate about applying their knowledge and skills to make a positive difference. On behalf of the team I’d like to thank our mentor, Professor Esat Alpay, for his encouragement and support.”

As one of five champion teams from each country taking part in the challenge – the UK, US and China – Surrey’s team will attend a Collaboration Lab event on 12 to 16 September, during which they will further develop and pitch their projects against rival teams for the global title. They will then be among the few student teams in the world to attend the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2019 from 16 to 18 September.

Professor Alpay commented: “The fantastic achievement of the team exemplifies the qualities of social responsibility, technical competence and creativity that are at the heart of our engineering education ethos at Surrey. We are so proud of the students, in particular their dedication to this important global challenge. Excited to see their future endeavours!”


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