21 August 2018
The theme of the WIEE is Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Make Dreams Come True and aims to explore the current scientific and technological revolution, social development, civilisation conflicts and ecological issues. “To meet these challenges, we need unprecedented spirit and culture for innovation and entrepreneurship. We need unprecedented abilities for imagination, solidification, collaboration and participation. The era of transforming ‘I’ into ‘we’ has come.”, says Dr Liu Jing, director of Tongji Mix Lab and curator of the exhibition.
In its courses, the College seeks to address global challenges by cultivating future leaders in sustainable design and innovation who can contribute to social development and change while pursuing academic excellence. Over the last two years, in partnership with South African non-profit organisation Peace Parks Foundation, students from the College of Design and Innovation Tongji University were instructed to use their skills and learning process to develop design concepts or products which address the complex issue of rhino horn use in Asia.
Professor Mo Jiao says, “The students did remarkably well. They took to Shanghai’s streets, shopping centres and schools to both test their designs and educate their communities about the plight of the rhino. They did this through video games, drawing activities, 3-dimensional rhino puzzles, and interactive rhino figurines.”
All of the items on display were produced by Tongji Mix Lab, a university-enterprise exchange and practice platform that brings together technology innovation, creative design and cultural strengths. Dr Liu Jing Janey says, “We aim to integrate industry-related university research into businesses. In doing this, we rely on strong scientific research and design innovation by the Tongji University. Tongji Mix Lab focusses on the innovation and creative needs of all walks of life in the new era by promoting the transformation of design teaching and scientific research achievements.”
Reconnecting the people of China with natural resources
Building on the successes showcased at the WIEE, the 2018 rhino campaign is in full swing with students having presented their ideas for this year’s designs to a panel for the first time in April.
Lamees Martin, Peace Parks Foundation Digital and Social Media Specialist, listened to the first round of presentations. She says, “There were eight project presentations, each different from the next. I was astonished by the level of detail and the ideas were not simply aesthetically-focussed, which is what you would expect from design students, they were designed with a deeper meaning in mind. In order for messaging to be effective, it needs to be reinforced by modern communication channels and most of the projects were on point in this regard. You could clearly see that the students put a lot of research effort into it and really engaged their target audiences.”
The students presented a good balance between innovative and modern design, education and digital aspects whilst displaying a deep understanding of the complex social and environmental issues associated with rhino horn demand.
The expo is organised by Tongji University within the framework of Pujiang Innovation Forum, with support from the Ministry of Science and Technology and Shanghai Municipal Government. It will run until May 2019, taking a break between October and December 2018. Connecting over 100 cities, colleges, enterprises and organisations from around the world, the event is sure to create an internationally attractive platform to influence innovation and entrepreneurship, while contributing to awareness of relevant social issues - such as the preservation of critical natural resources through the conservation of ecosystem biodiversity - to ensure a healthier future for generations to come.
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