Some of the nine Otago Polytechnic students who participated in the Humber University (Toronto) Map the System competition 2022Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license 4.0 International by Otago Polytechnic

Map the System

Otago Polytechnic School of Design students have shone in an international design competition.

Nine students from Otago Polytechnic’s School of Design participated in the Humber University (Toronto) round of Map the System, an Oxford University-based global system thinking competition that aims to stimulate new ways of thinking about social and environmental change. Forty-nine teams were asked to research a sustainability issue relating to a United Nations' Sustainability Development Goal, for example plastic waste, food security and the treatment of healthcare workers during Covid-19.

Otago Polytechnic third-year Bachelor of Design (Product) learners Alice Wassell and Elle (Wiriyapramon) Chotiwanich, joined by two international team-mates, won the Humber University round. This enabled them to compete in the Canadian final, where they claimed the “People’s Choice” award. Their research looked at the over-mining of sand, which is used for concrete, asphalt and glass. They found gaps in the range of existing solutions which could be filled to help address this issue. Two other Otago Polytechnic teams finished second and fourth in the Humber round of the competition. 

Collaborating online, students worked with peers from Canada and Denmark, an arrangement that required careful timetabling to account for time differences. Machiko Niimi, Head of our Product Design programme, says that the Otago Polytechnic students demonstrated excellent capability in research to receive the places against some participants studying at postgraduate level.

“It was heartening to see our students take such a leadership role in their projects. The hard work and accountability shown by Otago Polytechnic students was noted by staff from all institutions. They also demonstrated excellent capability in research, particularly given some competitors were studying at post-graduate level. The experience has been huge for all the students involved and is another example of how our learners can be engaged on a global basis while studying at Otago Polytechnic.”