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Noelani Elementary School and ʻIolani School are among the winners in the University of Hawaiʻi’s Make the Ala Wai Awesome challenge. Arizona State University took the overall prize.

The winners of the international student design competition were announced at the opening ceremony of the World Youth Congress and was part of the celebration to welcome the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa home from her worldwide voyage. Out of the 40-plus entries received, the five winners did the best job of meeting the challenge to rehabilitate a critical Oʻahu watershed that contains one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.

“The students’ ideas for collaboratively addressing the challenges before us are impressive,” said UH President David Lassner. “Congratulations to all of the winners. It’s exciting to see the innovation that this challenge has sparked, and the momentum that is being created to move Hawaiʻi towards a more sustainable future.”

A design team of senior students from the UH Mānoa College of Engineering won an award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recognizing “excellence in civil engineering” for their entry to the Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge.

The international student design challenge was launched by UH President David Lassner at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Conference in September 2016.

drawing of Ala Wai watershed ecosystem restoration with before and after effects
Noelani’s Make the Ala Wai Awesome entry

Make the Ala Wai Awesome Winners:

Noelani Elementary School
K–5 Winner ($1,000)
Number of students on design team: 24

ʻIolani Middle School
Intermediate Winner ($2,000)
Number of students on design team: 3

ʻIolani High School
High School Winner ($3,000)
Number of students on design team: 10

Arizona State University*
College Winner ($4,500)
Faculty Advisor: Paul Coseo, Darren Petrucci and Chingwen Cheng
Number of students on design team: 8
*also won ASLA award for “Excellence in Landscape Architecture”

ASCE Winner ($1,000): UH Mānoa College of Engineering*
Faculty Advisor: Roger Babcock, College of Engineering
Number of students on design team: 4
*won ASCE award for “Excellence in Civil Engineering”

“Mahalo to all the of the jurors who participated, and special thanks to Hawaiʻi SeaGrant, Precovery Labs and Hawaiʻi Green Growth for their work to help us develop and implement the competition,” said Matthew K. Lynch, UH System sustainability coordinator. “The winning designs of the Ala Wai Challenge highlight how the meeting of wisdoms between ancestral knowledge and modern sciences are essential to creating the integrated solutions that are needed to solve the complex challenges of sustainability and resilience that our communities face today.”

The Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge is part of the Aloha + Challenge, Hawaiʻi’s statewide commitment to achieve six integrated sustainability goals by 2030 for clean energy, local food, natural resource management, solid waste, smart sustainable communities and green education and workforce. Progress on the six goals is measured on the Aloha + Challenge Dashboard, which can be viewed online.

computer illustration of Ala Wai before and after modifications
Arizona State University’s Make the Ala Wai Awesome entry
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