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Internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer and inventor revolutionising recycling science, Professor Veena Sahajwalla FAA FTSE,  joined NYSFers for the first keynote address of the 2023 NYSF Year 12 Program. 

STEM Challenge 2023: Reforming Waste - content image

Credit: Anna Kucera

She deeply inspired the 2023 NYSFers with her insights into the work being done at the SMaRT Centre of the University of New South Wales. In return, our NYSFers inspired her. Impressed with their enthusiasm and the calibre of questions they asked, Professor Sahajwalla issued participants with a challenge: to identify problems with waste and recycling in their communities and propose a solution using their STEM knowledge!

Working independently and in groups, NYSF participants harnessed their STEM knowledge, conducted research online, and contacted local council members for information.

The result: 12 exceptionally innovative and wonderfully creative solutions to local waste issues affecting communities across Australia.

The Top 5 (in no particular order)

  • Winner! Recycling solar panels - Aquila, Zavier, Sophia, Makaela, and Mingqian (Ally)
  • Reforming construction and demolition waste - Matthew
  • Recycling cotton textiles for biofuel - Saskia
  • Recovering from floods: Carpets, clothes, casts, and concrete - Cadence
  • Reforming E-Waste - Thomas, Rori, Tim, and Aisha

Thank you to all the entrants!

Congratulations to all participants that made a submission to Professor Veena Sahajwalla's STEM challenge.

  • The coffee cup catastrophe - Esther 
  • Fast fashion and waste textiles - Maya
  • Think outside the bin: Composting - David, Fina, Tirrapon, Millie, Luke, and Jorja
  • A solution to the food waste epidemic and Can meal worms solve the plastic pollution crisis? - Sophie and Molly
  • Reforming waste: Ceramics - Emelia
  • Conversion of biomass into biofuel -  Owen, Surbhi, Athira, Arthur, Radhi, Tashan, Taylor, Marianna and Xin Ling
  • Reforming waste bottle caps - Aaditya and Vishnu
  • Soft plastic recycling - Lily

We thank Professor Sahajwalla for her insights and for her commitment to helping inspire Australia's next generation of STEM professionals, and we look forward to seeing the impact our NYSFers will make in the future!