Otago Challenge win fueled by electric cars

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A team of students from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has won the 2018 World’s Challenge Challenge.

Team Otago delivered its award-winning idea for a solution to a global challenge in the international final last week in front of a panel of academic and community leaders from Western and London and were announced as the winners at the closing ceremonies.

Carolyn Ding, Rebecca Good and Nick White from Otago shared the $30,000 top prize. Their idea, E-Hop: The Future of Electric Vehicle Charging, investigates the links between climate change and electric cars and introduced a new model for car chargers, which would be available for rent like vacation homes listed on Airbnb.

The runners-up were Kevin Dang, Ashley Keefner and Vishal Vinodkumar from the University of Waterloo. Winning $15,000, they developed a program called CataLight that makes safe drinking water accessible for all. To achieve this goal, the students have created an affordable and reusable point-of-use water treatment unit.

Zachary Moll, Jessica Morris and Monica Sanchez from McMaster University finished third and collected $7,500 in prize money. The team introduced a novel sanitation solution for the overcrowded Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. The proposal includes piloting the use of a bacterial compound that breaks down feces in latrines more quickly to help stem the spread of potentially deadly diseases such as cholera and diphtheria.

All told, 15 student teams from eight countries gathered together in London for the international pitch competition and a chance at seed money to bring their world-changing ideas to life. Outside the Top 3, other competing university teams included Bond University (Australia), The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dalhousie University, Hirosaki University (Japan), Queen’s University, Radboud University (The Netherlands), University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University at Buffalo, University of Calgary, University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and Western.

Each team advanced to the finals at Western after having won competitions at their home universities.