Two college students will be competing against delegates from 12 other APAC countries to field the most innovative idea for smarter and more sustainable cities.

Team Chinquapin, Yumi Briones and Gabby Ozaeta from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), was declared grand champion at this year’s “Go Green in the City”, the annual student competition organized by energy management and automation leader Schneider Electric.

Their winning project, Rainshine, is an improved solar panel that can produce clean energy from both the sun and the rain. It was developed to be useful all year-round considering the Philippines’ alternating dry and wet seasons.

Aside from the opportunity to represent the Philippines, Briones and Ozaeta bagged a P100,000 cash prize and mentorship from Schneider Electric leading up to the regional leg in August.

“We’re very familiar with how it is also on a global scale… so we also make sure that when we select, it’s [someone] that we know can go into the big game and will be able to address something for the country,” said Ruth Ramayla, Director for Industrial Business Automation – International Operations at Schneider Electric. “What we really want to highlight is the inventive capabilities of the Filipinos.”

The country has had its share of victories in the competition. In 2013, Alyssa Vintola and Enzo Payonga from ADMU won the global championships with the Oscillohump, a device that generates energy from cars going over road humps. The most recent was in 2015, when John Paul Santos and Christian Sto. Romana from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines bagged third prize for Electrifilter, which generated electricity and potable water from dirty water.

Addressing actual needs

Among 1,300 proposals sent in from all over the country, only three teams were selected for the final round. Each team had to undergo up to six weeks of training to improve their presentation skills and the concept of their projects.

TuBo, developed by first runners-up Seb Dela Cruz and Mary Cotoco of Team Brine Me Water from De La Salle University – Manila, is a self-sustaining plant that feeds off of waste brine and produces potable water. This brine is a waste product from desalination, often disposed into the ocean, creating toxic salinity levels. By utilizing this waste product, the device is also able to help preserve marine life while providing clean water for areas experiencing water scarcity.

P.O.W.E.R. (Piezo On Wave Energy Reaping), developed by second runners-up Angel Ed Ameril and Mycca Mae Valmonte of Team Young Innovators from PUP, utilizes mechanical energy from the movement of the ocean to produce electricity.

‘Take that first step’

While Briones and Ozaeta say their victory hasn’t quite sunk in yet, the team is excited to see where Rainshine can go in terms of providing new ways to generate clean energy.

“We’re just really thankful that we were able to even have this opportunity to be here,” said Briones. “We’re overjoyed, mostly at the fact that we’re able to get this idea out there in the world. Because we really think that this is going to make a huge change.”

The pair also hopes that other students like them can seek out and make the most out of similar opportunities, even if they may seem intimidating.

“It’s really just trusting the people that you’re around and developing your own idea, even if it came from something really vague,” said Ozaeta. “So just take that first step and really believe in it until it becomes [a reality].”