Congratulations to three Design Technology (DT) A Level students Joseph Birch, Ben Sindall and Liam Bridgman who have reached the final stage of the prestigious Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition. 

The competition challenges young people to explore how technology can be used as a force for good to improve education, sustainability, social isolation or diversity. Entrants must come up with an idea for a tech product, service or app under one of those four categories. 

The process is very similar to the DT NEA (non-exam assessment) that all students undertake as part of GCSE and A Level coursework and is perfect preparation for tackling challenges like this. 

After being shortlisted in Phase Two and attending workshops and mentoring sessions to develop their idea, Joseph, Ben and Liam aka “Team Oleo” are now one of five finalists. They must present to a judging panel on Friday 12 May to be in with a chance of winning a £10,000 prize and three months of mentoring to help further develop their innovation. 

Here, the team share their experience of the competition so far:  

“In mid-December last year, we were introduced to a competition run by Samsung, called “Solve for Tomorrow”; it was designed to allow young designers and engineers to have their innovative, creative and new ideas heard by start-up company specialists, and gain some recognition for their ideas. 

“We decided to enter under the topic of sustainability and, more specifically, we chose to tackle the problem of microplastic pollution in the oceans and large rivers, since a seemingly tiny hazard can have catastrophic impacts further up the food chain. 

“We succeeded in showing our concept had potential, and progressed to the semi-final, where we attended bi-weekly virtual sessions through February and April, to help us turn our idea into a feasible business plan, and a potential product. This is where we developed OLEO: Use waste to remove waste. The name comes from “oleophilic”, which is the material property of microplastics that allows our idea to work. The microplastics cluster together remarkably well when mixed with oil, and of course, oil and water naturally separate due to their difference in densities. 

“We plan to use leftover cooking and vegetable oil from fast food chains in our system (using waste), then carry out our process to remove the microplastics and finally transform the microplastic/oil mixture into biofuel, which can be used as an environmentally friendly replacement for crude oil-based fuels. 

“We produced a detailed overview of our progress, which achieved us a spot in the final, among four other teams in our age group (16-18). In the next few weeks, we will continue to attend the sessions and progress our idea, then present our idea to a live panel of expert judges on Friday 12 May, before the awards ceremony at Samsung KX on Thursday 25 May. 

“Overall this has been a really valuable experience for the whole team teaching us a huge range of skills in product design, engineering and business. We highly recommend other students enter this competition in the coming years.” 

We wish you all the best for the final presentation! 

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