Final of the Dean’s Challenge 2015 – students bursting with ideas

The final of the Dean’s Challenge was held on Friday afternoon. The competitors presented their ideas in three categories – Health Technology, Climate/Energy, and Food – and the winners were selected by the jury and Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen.

2015.12.08 | Caja Lola Schou Tofft

Good ideas were in focus throughout the Dean’s Challenge, and eight of them went through to the final on Friday, where they competed in the three categories for prizes amounting to DKK 10,000. The audience heard about a membrane to clean sea water, a molecular fan to minimise the over-ripening of fruit and vegetables, and date stamps that use the colours red, yellow and green to indicate the shelf-life of food.

The lecture theatre was filled to capacity, and there was a buzz of excitement when the final kicked off at 14.00. The finalists were seated in the first two rows and it was clear to see how nervous they were as they anxiously watched their competitors. One after another, the groups took their turn on stage, presenting their good ideas and impressing the jury. Each group had ten minutes to present their idea, followed by a number of in-depth questions.

No stress
The eight finalists had all come up with very different ideas, and the focus for all of them was to make society more sustainable, or to minimise some of the existing major problems.

Marie Cecilie Vinther and Vincente Kenrice Klehr won the Health Technology category with an idea to measure the cortisol level in the urine of patients suffering from stress. One of their arguments was that many people do not even realise they are stressed, and that the gauge should therefore let off an alarm and send a message to the patient’s doctor to enable rapid treatment.

Sea water for everyone
The key element in the Climate/Energy category was to solve one of the world’s major issues – providing drinking water in the developing world. Bjarke Aleksander Kappel Hübschmann and Frederik Thorning Frederiksen are well on the way with their idea for a membrane that removes the salt from sea water, and the jury was very impressed by the two students.

Yoghurt during the night
The most popular idea, however, was Reculture, which won the Food category. Two PhD students – Rasmus Thomsen and Jeppe Dehli – are engaged in the battle against food waste, and they have developed a bacterial culture that can be added to old milk and convert it overnight into a cultured milk product. They took the bacterial culture with them in a small jar and demonstrated how it works to the jury and the audience. The jury members were also given a sample of the converted milk to taste.

The competition was named after Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen, and he was full of praise for the competitors in the Dean’s Challenge. “I’m extremely pleased with the event and the high quality of the projects. The Dean’s Challenge has shown that students at Science and Technology are not only innovative, but also have a high academic level and manage to combine both,” he said.

Audience chose the old milk
The members of the jury, consisting of Bo Wesley (Novo Nordisk), Niels Kristian Sørensen (Arla), Lars Enevoldsen (Grundfos), and Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen (Science and Technology, Aarhus University), selected the winners of the three challenges, but the audience also had a say in the matter.

After the three winners had been selected, the audience voted for their favourite in the Audience Choice Award. The Reculture idea ran off with the victory in this category.

Public / media, Staff