ASU Graduate Students: Call to Innovate at the Cisco Circular Economy Challenge

Internet of Things. Big Data. Blockchain. Digital disruptions are transforming the way we do business and creating new opportunities to address social and environmental challenges. As we enter the “fourth industrial revolution,” how might these new technologies help us transition from our linear “take, make, waste” economy toward a system that is more circular and sustainable over the long-term?

ASU graduate students are invited to answer this question at the , an interdisciplinary competition offering $2800 in prizes. In this challenge, teams of students will become Cisco entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions to market opportunities. Teams will apply Cisco and Internet technologies to global problems and opportunities faced by Cisco customers-developing new products and solutions that enable customer success and accelerate the transition to the Circular Economy.

“The competition will present students with a real business challenge we are tackling at Cisco right now,” says Abbey Burns, Cisco Sustainability Manager and member of the . “We are excited to see what the teams come up with.”

Students interested in competing must form a three- to five-person team in advance and register online (deadline has passed). The competition is open to all graduate students at ASU. Participating teams will receive the specific challenge a week before the March 23rd competition, giving them time to research, formulate ideas, interview experts, and practice their presentations.

“We’re at the number one school for innovation, so I can’t wait to see our students apply their creativity to move us closer to a circular economy,” says Eve Richer, W. P. Carey MBA Student Eve Richer and event organizer as part of a for the . “It should be a fun event and a great chance for students to learn and network.”

Important dates are summarized below:

  • February 20:
  • February 23: Priority deadline for team: (deadline has passed)
  • March 16: Student challenge released
  • March 23: Full-day competition; teams present to judging panel

RISN Incubator Trash Hack seeks to redesign the future of plastics

In a 24 hour weekend-long event, Trash Hack seeks to train new entrepreneurs and rethink solid waste, guided by experts in solid waste and entrepreneurship.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. This shocking statistic begs the question, “What can we do about it?” That’s why we created Trash Hack – a new type of hackathon to reimagine the future of plastics. In the course of a short weekend, this hackathon aimed to create hacks – or disruptive and entrepreneurial solutions – to address plastic waste.

On September 29th, 46 students – across seceral different majors – set forth to challenge plastic waste, and design solutions ranging from software solutions to physical products. After the opening ceremony, and a speech from Dr. Thomas Seager, an Associate Professor at ASU, that was half a motivational speech and half a call to action, students set forth to design a solution that re imagines the future of plastics.

After forming teams based on united ideas, students sought for inspiration and advice from experts in solid waste. During the plastics panel, Alana Levine from ASU Facilities Zero Waste Initiative and Lucas Mariacher from the City of Phoenix’s Solid Waste Department described the problems with plastic waste, and the different types of waste feedstock.

Throughout the course of the weekend, student teams had access to hardware tools – like Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, and Sensors – and prototyping tools, including 3D printers, to make their ideas happen. Teams also had access to expert mentors and workshops to help them learn skills in programming and 3D design.

Fun events to take a break from hacking were mixed throughout the weekend, like a four square tournament. Saiman Shetty, an ASU grad who works at Tesla and his own startup, Hygeia – as well as Roza Ferdowsmakan, local tech attorney, who is working on an app called bites to connect foodies, chefs, and farmers – came to lead a late night storytelling series on entrepreneurship.

Team Recycleanse, winner of the Trash Hack.
At the end of the weekend, the winning team – Recycleanse – took home a Makerbot 3D printer for their idea to use hardware and software to provide data analytics to decrease contamination in recycling. The remaining teams took home entry into RISN Incubator’s Design Challenge to advance their ideas:

  • Cliffhangr’s idea to create an outdoors brand and climbing products that use upcycled plastics to save the environment while creating quality gear
  • SmartBin’s plan to use camera sensors in trash bins to collect data on recycling, and incentivize good recycling with data
  • Peker’s idea to use hard to recycle plastic films to make contraceptives
  • AgroCode’s project to create a vertical garden using upcycled K Cups and PVC pipe