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Recycled fabrics and tech on wheelchairs, CQUni students take on The Big Idea

Recycled fabrics and tech on wheelchairs, CQUni students take on The Big Idea

Published:13 November 2017

Mackay's A-Tech-You team member Chelsea Xu (right), with Change Champ Caitlin Petersen.

Big-thinking CQUni students have passed the first hurdle to take their innovative ideas to the world, winning an all-campus challenge to represent CQUni in The Big Idea competition.

Teams from Melbourne and Mackay will take on other students from around Australia in the social enterprise challenge, with creative proposals for tech to support people with disabilities, and for recycling fast fashion into useful products.

Both intent on making the world a better, more sustainable place, the teams who won the internal judging round were:

- A social enterprise idea from Mackay Bachelor of Nursing student Xueqing (Chelsea) Xu, whose experience working in the aged care and disability sectors for the past four years has inspired her determination to empower people with mobility challenges.

- A social enterprise idea from Master of Accounting student Urusha Kansakar and Master of Engineering Management student Jagadish Kuttur, proposing employing disadvantaged Australians in manufacture using waste fabric and fashion items. The Melbourne-based initiative would reduce the amount of clothes going into landfill, while also tackling poverty, and educating the next generation to the problems with fast fashion and wasteful consumerism.

Associate Vice-Chancellor (Victoria) Lara Carton said the two teams impressed an internal judging panel of social innovators in early November, and will now pitch against teams from 12 other universities, as part of The Big Idea national competition.

In 2014, a CQUni team of Engineering students won the undergraduate prize for The Shelter Project, a temporary housing design using recycled industrial pallets, which opportunities for unemployed Australians to assist with construction while gaining trade-based qualifications.

And in 2015, CQUniversity students won the post-graduate award for their entry The Garden of Earthly Delights. This project proposed converting Adelaide’s southern parklands to a community garden, providing flexible and transitional employment, education, and training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

"Our work with The Big Idea competition has been one of the highlights of CQUniversity's social innovation agenda," Ms Carton said.

The teams will face a national judging panel this month, with the final judging and awards night in Melbourne on Tuesday 5 December.