Five international students from ANU are heading to the Middle East as part of the world’s largest competition to beat global poverty, thanks to their innovative ideas on housing.
Graduate students Gil Arevalo, Haruka Yoshida, Rani Barus and Denise Suarez from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific will travel to Dubai later this month to participate in the regional finals of the Hult Global Case Challenge – the world’s largest youth initiative which aims to solve some of the globe’s most pressing social challenges.
The four students from the College’s Crawford School will be joined by Anna Lei Li Mee, a Masters of Studies student studying anthropology in the College’s School of Culture, History and Language and the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. In what is the first time that ANU has entered the competition, the five students were selected from more than 4,000 entrants to attend the regional finals.
Team captain Gil Arevalo said that he and his teammates had been selected as finalists because of their innovative ideas on housing design which have the potential to reduce global poverty.
“Three ways the world could significantly reduce poverty and increase development is through housing, energy and education,” said Mr Arevalo. “For this competition our team has come up with an integrated model for accessible, green housing. By examining what is already being done by initiatives like the Habitat for Humanity International, we have developed a more affordable, sustainable and revolutionary housing model which could easily be used around the world.
“Our proposed housing is inexpensive because it taps into all the resources available to a community, including earth and recycled materials. Our housing is also sustainable because our houses use integrative design. That means, in addition to materials like rocks, straw bale, poured earth, timber and bamboo, we’re integrating solar photovoltaic systems and clean cook stoves for clean energy.”
Mr Arevalo added that it was an honour for him and his teammates to be selected for the regional finals.
“It’s a real privilege to represent ANU in this competition. Our backgrounds range from developed countries such as Japan and Singapore and developing nations like Indonesia and Philippines. With our diverse cultural backgrounds and varied work experiences, we hope we can bring some fresh thinking and creative ideas to the competition. Hopefully, we can convince the judges that our ideas will work.
“Most importantly, the Hult Global Challenge will help us refine our ideas, broaden our horizons and also reveal many of the creative local ways that people from Asia and the Pacific can rise to meet the challenges that our societies face.”