Students and academics from across Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University have joined forces to participate in the global 24-hour Climathon event with the aim of finding new ways to tackle environmental challenges in Suzhou.

The XJTLU team joined participants from 113 cities in 67 countries around the world who took part in the hackathon-style event, which encouraged ordinary citizens to contribute to sustainable development in their own cities.

Approximately 50 XJTLU students were divided into 12 groups, each tasked with finding the solution to a specific question related to either Human Behaviour and Circular Economy within a 24-hour time period.

In the Circular Economy category, a group who developed the ‘Cleanathon’ – a product capable of filtering out microfibers produced during the laundry process – took out both the first prize and the popularity prize in the category.

The group, which comprised Eva Carocci from the BEng Industrial Design programme, Adit Rastogi from the BA Marketing programme, Xiaoyang Zhou from the BEng Architecture programme and Wenqing Gao from the BSc Financial Mathematics programme, came up with the design to address the issue of unfiltered microfibres polluting the ocean.

“The design of Cleanathon is based on the existing Cora Ball, which can collect and filter one third of the microfibres produced during the laundry process,” said Adit.

“Our goal is to promote Cleanathon to hotels and residential neighbourhoods so that the technology can have a larger market and therefore play an important role in protecting our oceans and our own health.”

Fellow student Eva said she believed the key to the group’s success was teamwork.

“We all come from different departments, and our areas of expertise really complemented each other,” said Eva.

A group who developed an app designed to help XJTLU staff and students exchange and trade unused items was the winning team in the Human Behaviour category.

The group consisted of Naomi Riteco from the MSc Media and Communication programme, Daniel Francis from the MSc Financial Mathematics programme, Xingyan Wang from the BSc Biological Sciences programme and Ziye Xia from the BA Human Resource Management programme.

Dr Barbara Wong, from the Department of Industrial Design, was the team leader and one of the key organisers of the event. She said Climathon required a combination of innovation and insight of the users and environmental problems to find the real problem and an effective solution.

“Climathon participants need a range of different skills – creativity and design thinking, basic prototyping skills, the ability to communicate well and a real sense of team spirit,” said Dr Wong.

“The critical element of the Climathon is that it looks at innovative ideas and business viability, as well as environmental solutions. The groups need to make thorough considerations about the feasibility and business model to guarantee its sustainability.”

The XJTLU students benefited from a range of mentors, who were also the organisers, from the University during the Climathon event, including Dr Ellen Touchstone from the International Business School Suzhou, Dr. Marco Cimillo from the Department of Architecture, Dr Paola Pellegrin from the Department of Urban Planning and Design, and Dr Zheng Feei Ma from the Department of Health and Environmental Sciences.

The event was supported by five departments in XJTLU, including the Department of Industrial Design, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Department of Architecture, and the International Business School Suzhou. Two student clubs – the XJTLU Design Association and Oikos Suzhou – played a key role in the organisation of the event including undertaking promotion activities, recruitment and material preparations.

By Bo Kou and Heyang Liu; photos by Sifan Yan, Yu Liu, Yuhang Gu, Ziyi Wu and Mingkun Li

Translated by Xiangyin Han; edited by Rosanna Galvin

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