A multi-skilled team from RMIT has competed in Singapore to produce innovative sanitation solutions for the developing world.
The inaugural WorldSkills Water Innovation Challenge saw two teams from Australia and the United States compete to benefit communities in Nepal and Bangladesh with innovative concepts for clean water and sewage systems.
RMIT science, media, engineering, design and plumbing students were involved in the challenge, with four selected for the team that represented Australia in Singapore.
The USA team was made up of students from various US institutions.
Both teams demonstrated their practical skills and knowledge of land, windmill and solar pump systems in the challenge.
Nurul Driver, a systems engineering student from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said the competition was a tremendous opportunity.
"During the competition, outcomes required team skill combinations so that engineers were working with plumbers on practical tasks and on computer designs and presentations," Ms Driver said.
"Overall it was a great learning experience and our team certainly did its best; even though we lost to the USA we gained valuable lessons and met some amazing people."
Project Leader, Dr Helen Smith, Senior Consultant Learning and Teaching in the Office of the Director Vocational Education at RMIT, said the range of skills represented in the total group, which included staff and students from four RMIT schools, allowed for real collaboration and learning.
"This global challenge fostered an appreciation of future graduate working conditions in a team environment and shows how trades work with RMIT researchers to add value to cutting-edge research, that results in innovative solutions to global problem," Dr Smith said.
"In both Nepal and Bangladesh, communities suffer from ongoing health issues caused by poor sanitation and the outcomes from this WorldSkills Challenge will help to change this for the better for the communities involved."
Working collaboratively, the RMIT team leveraged research on the use of aquatic plants to demonstrate an environmentally sustainable and technically manageable solution for the issue of waste disposal in small communities.
The solution showcased the study pathways and outcomes that differentiate RMIT from other tertiary institutions.
Professor Julianne Reid, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Science, Engineering and Health, said the project was trialled as part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Ecosystem Project.
"The project allows tertiary students from multi-disciplines to work together with industry partners for a real world outcome and is the learning environment of the future," Professor Reid said.
Mark Callaghan, CEO WorldSkills Australia, said that WorldSkills was the collective voice for quality and skills excellence in vocational education and training.
"Participation and success at WorldSkills competitions is a reflection on not only the individual competitor but also the teacher, trainer, training organisation and industry," Mr Callaghan said.
As a result of the competition, Team USA’s winning concept will be further developed by Health Habitat and implemented in Bangladesh in 2015 – with both teams travelling to Bangladesh next year to jointly implement the winning solutions.
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