“More than 1,000 students from all over the world gathered last week at the University of Miami to address the world’s most pressing challenges” – says the Clinton Global Initiative University website. Among those students from all over the world was a Croatian, Filip Zadro, senior student of the Audio Arts and Acoustics Department at Columbia College Chicago. Filip graduated high school in Sinj, Croatia and moved to Grand Rapids, MI in 2010. He graduated Grand Rapids Community College in 2012 and continued his studies at Columbia College Chicago, where he will soon graduate with a degree in Audio Design and Production. Since his arrival at Columbia College Chicago, he has been working with one of his professors as part of Scientists for Tomorrow, an initiative that works with Chicago Public Schools to bring STEM education to children and introduce them to various education and career opportunities related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
He was recently accepted to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) to present his project that repurposes used shipping containers as mobile infrastructure units, which can then be used in developing countries to provide clean water and energy to communities without steady access to those basic resources. He worked with faculty from the Department of Science and Mathematics at Columbia College Chicago to get his project ready for CGI U 2015. CGI U is a yearly conference that brings together students from various universities across 80 different countries to talk about the many problems that face today’s world, as well as explore the many creative solutions that might help alleviate them. The conference is a way for students to communicate and network in a way that fosters further collaboration and teamwork across various fields, including a way to see that the many humanitarian projects present at CGI U get realized and implemented. This year’s CGI U saw almost one thousand students, of which Filip was the only member of the Croatian community in attendance. He hopes to promote continued humanitarian work, and wishes to inform as many students as possible of the many funding, networking, and collaborative opportunities that CGI U has to offer. For the future, Filip plans on starting an urban growing cooperative for Chicago school children, as well as implementing his first Building Block unit within the next few years. Here is what he had to say about his project:
Last semester, I began work on what I call the “Building Block Project.” The project would repurpose used shipping containers and turn them into mobile infrastructure units, which could then be sent to various locations all over the world in order to provide people in developing communities with the basic infrastructure needed to go about their daily lives without fear of disease or any number of public health issues.
There are three main components behind the project, water, energy, and communications. The first purpose of the Building Block container would be to provide clean and sanitary water to the communities that it serves. Though this part of the project is still under development for reasons tied to cost-effectiveness, the gist of it is that it would clean water through a multi-stage filtration process that would channel the water through a ceramic plate with a series of holes in it to capture larger debris and particulates. Then, the water would pass through a micron filter that would remove any bacteria, and then the final process would be completed by passing the water through a tank with a number of UV lights capable of sanitizing the water and keeping it clear of viruses and smaller organisms that might pass through the first two filters.
Next, there will be a modular solar array that will be mounted to the roof of the container once it is delivered to its destination. This solar array will gather electricity throughout the day and store the energy in batteries that can then be used to charge other appliances, such as mobile phones and car batteries. Though the container is currently capable of generating up to five kilowatts per day, I am working with a team from the Science and Mathematics Department at Columbia College Chicago to develop a way to generate electricity more efficiently and increase the total output of the solar panels used.
Lastly, there will be a small and low-energy computer within the container that will be used for communications purposes. This addition will allow members of the community that our container serves to call for help when in need of medical assistance, not to mention that the system could be used to download a daily curriculum that can then be taught to local children. My goal is to have the unit serve as a small school or clean room for women to give birth in without fear of infection of complications.
I was invited to attend the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), held at the University of Miami, which presented me with the opportunity to speak with a vast amount of students, all focused on creating some sort of change within a local, or global setting. Not just that, but the opportunities that attending CGI U 2015 presented me with in the way of educating myself about the various problems that face today’s society, as well as the myriad ways that people are trying to end those problems, opened me up to a world of thinkers devoted to solving problems in ways that are beyond the scope of “outside the box.” I attended various discussion panels focused on poverty alleviation and public health, which gave me more of the information I needed in order to get my project on a faster track to completion. Since CGI U attracts many participants from various parts of the globe, I was excited to speak with everyone I came into contact with and take a piece of their wisdom with me and apply it towards my current and future endeavors.
Being able to watch and listen to so many global-thinkers made for a very humbling experience, one that I will use as added motivation towards my implementation of the Building Block Project. I have been back home from the conference for over a week and am gripped with the same level of excitement that I had going into it. Being able to see the Clinton family in action, as well as the hundreds upon hundreds of participants, working to spread the message of global change, opened me up to a community of people who create humanitarian ventures because they feel a calling to do so. Karen Washington, a speaker at a panel discussion I attended, on urban growing and urban agriculture said, “understand what the issue is, and go find the answer.” To me, this is what CGI U is, and it is also the reason more people need to get involved, because the more people there are engaged in finding what the answer is, the sooner we might all come to a solution.
Filip Zadro Audio Design and Production student and Columbia College Chicago (Senior)
Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljić
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