Green manufacturing leader among inaugural PLuS Alliance Prize winners

Tuesday, 05 September, 2017

Green manufacturing leader among inaugural PLuS Alliance Prize winners

The PLuS Alliance — an international collaboration between Arizona State University, King’s College London and UNSW Sydney — has announced the winners of the inaugural PLuS Alliance Prize, which recognises innovation in both research and education.

Launched in February 2016, the PLuS Alliance enables research-led solutions to global challenges while expanding access to world-class learning. The PLuS Alliance Prize awards US$50,000 annually to highlight innovation in research and innovation in education that addresses a globally significant issue; makes a direct and positive impact; and helps or has the potential to help communities globally.

For the inaugural prize, students, staff and alumni from the collaborating universities were eligible to nominate a candidate in each of the categories of Research Innovation and Education Innovation. Judging the shortlisted candidates were six industry leaders, including former LinkedIn VP Ellen Levy (now managing director of Silicon Valley Connect); NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Mary O’Kane; Timothy Irish, the former VP of GE Medical Europe; and the three presidents of the PLuS Alliance universities.

UNSW’s Professor Veena Sahajwalla was awarded the PLuS Alliance Prize for Research Innovation for her project ‘The new science of green manufacturing’. She is reimagining the global supply chain by demonstrating the viability of ‘mining’ overburdened landfills for resources — such as noxious electronic and automotive waste — to produce cost-effective ‘green’ metals and alloys.

“The work we’ve been doing to help global industries use green materials over virgin raw materials is vital to sustainability,” Professor Sahajwalla said. “This recognition from by the PLuS Alliance for the work we’ve been doing to drive change and impact communities across the world is a real honour.”

The PLuS Alliance Prize for Education Innovation, meanwhile, went to Dr Laura Hosman for The Solar Powered Educational Learning Library (SolarSPELL) — a digital library for Pacific Island teachers, healthcare workers and students who have no access to the internet. The compact, ruggedised, all-in-one, self-powered library works off a Raspberry Pi in a box powered by a plastic solar panel, which offers up a Wi-Fi hotspot that any Wi-Fi enabled device can connect to.

“It’s a great privilege to be selected as the education innovation winner for the PLuS Alliance Prize this year,” said Dr Hosman. “SolarSPELL is making a difference in the lives of thousands of people living in remote areas around the world by removing barriers to learning. This distinguished award will help our team continue this important work.”

“Dr Hosman and Professor Sahajwalla are contemporaries in research and education innovation,” said Dr Michael M Crow, president of Arizona State University. “They’re truly impacting their fields and bringing about a positive difference with proven global application. The level of competition for the inaugural PLuS Alliance Prize was awe-inspiring, and we’re already looking forward to the nominees for the 2018 Prize.”

Image caption: The winner of the inaugural PLuS Alliance Prize for Research Innovation, UNSW Professor Veena Sahajwalla, at a ceremony at King’s College London.

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