A global call for high-school students to create human-centric solutions using “Whole System Design Thinking” or “Design Thinking” process.

Human-Centric Solutions

is an approach to product/solution development that puts people first and focusses on user needs, desires and abilities at the center of the development process.

Whole Systems Design Thinking

is an approach that aims to integrate social, economic and environmental factors, interrelationships, and phenomena into a comprehensive design solution.

Design Thinking

is a non-linear, iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions.

Pathogen Resistant and Elimination Surface

Process Used: Whole System Design Thinking

Author: Pranav Akella, Grade 11

High School: California High School, San Ramon, CA

Publication Date: July 30, 2021


This research article addresses the issue of surface-acquired infections. Currently, high-use surfaces accrue numerous harmful pathogens, which then are transmitted to and infect thousands of people every year. Current solutions address parts of the problem, but are riddled with flaws that make them either ineffective or unviable, such as not considering human error, cost, and difficult means of implementation. This research article presents a solution that not only is effective but also eliminates many of these flaws. The solution implements nature’s methods of pathogen resistance through the utilization of nanopillars and electric current. Through these methods, it is able to ensure a surface stays virtually pathogen-free, while also being easy to implement and easy to maintain. This solution can ensure high-use surfaces stay pathogen-free with minimal effort and maintenance and can help eradicate surface-acquired infections for good.

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A Futuristic Orthotic Design

Process Used: Whole System Design Thinking

Author: Rashanna Wickramasinghe, Grade 12

High School: Sierra Canyon School, Los Angeles, CA

Publication Date: August 25, 2021


Flat feet, also called pes planus, is a condition in which there is little to no arch on one or both feet, and this hinders the proper foundation one’s body needs. About 25% of the American population suffer from the lack of arch support. There are different types of flat feet, the two most common being flexible and rigid. Current treatments help only temporarily by managing the pain in one’s feet, ankles, shins, and back, while surgery comes at the expense of great pain and hazards. I asked myself how I could create a solution that would eliminate the risks of surgery, correct the root problem, and also is suitable for both types of flat feet. I focused on orthotics, and after researching its various parts and its functions, studying exactly wherein the foot support was fundamental, and taking inspiration from nature’s unique features, I designed a multi-part solution that manages the symptoms that come with both types of flat feet while also correcting the underlying issue. It consists of a customizable orthotic that provides comfort and strength to the feet, and a fusion device that utilizes natural forces combined with the physiotherapy process to lead to long-term results. Using biomimicry and green chemistry, the Orthotic and Fusion Device can be adjusted according to the user’s needs and progress of treatment. Both work together to generate the most desirable results and grants those suffering from flat feet the utmost relief and stability while avoiding the unnecessary hazards of surgery.

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Sustainable Solutions for the Destructive Impacts Caused by the Fast Fashion Industry and a Thriving Economy

Process Used: Whole System Design Thinking

Author: Tanisha Joshi, Grade 12

High School: Dublin High School, Dublin, CA

Publication Date: November 3, 2021


With the idea of consumerism rising consistently in today’s world through new fashion trends that are shared via social media and other forms of advertising, many companies work to produce clothing in a fast and cheap manner. This process is called fast fashion, which has severe calamitous effects on the environment, people, and the economy. Through severe carbon emissions, unethical conditions in manufacturing factories, and problems in the supply chain, the fast fashion industry creates a burden of problems that continue to cause immense harm in the world. Through utilizing inspirations from nature and the idea of biomimicry, a multi-part whole-system solution was designed to protect the workers and the environment, while building a thriving economy.  All entities in the supply chain from farmers to consumers were thoroughly analyzed and a new circular economy model has been proposed which in its core creates new business opportunities and ensures resources are being well managed to avoid pollution. With the incorporation of swarm intelligence and latest technologies, the solution adheres to all the standards and regulations, and ensures compliance for ethical and fair business practices. These sustainable solutions decrease the negative impacts of the fast fashion industry while creating a thriving fast-fashion industrial ecosystem that still allows consumers to buy clothes at a fair price and stay up to date with new trends.

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