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8 Tips to Help You Win the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge

If you’re a high school student looking to participate in competitions that will allow you to gain hands-on experience and create innovative solutions for real-world problems, the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge can be a good opportunity for you! This experience can help you build your knowledge, sharpen your skills, and challenge yourself in ways that traditional coursework may not provide. Such competitions allow you to mingle with like-minded peers, demonstrate teamwork, and apply knowledge beyond the classroom. They also help you develop creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills, all of which can boost your profile for college applications, making your experience stand out. 


In this blog, we will explore the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge in detail and provide tips and resources to help you succeed!


What is the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge?

The Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge is an international competition that invites high school and university students to develop innovative solutions for pressing water-related issues. Sponsored by Xylem, a leading water technology company, the challenge aims to inspire young minds to create sustainable solutions for water conservation, purification, and distribution. Each year, participants tackle a unique prompt related to global water challenges, encouraging them to apply their knowledge and creativity to real-world problems.


The competition is structured to provide a comprehensive learning experience, from initial concept development to prototype creation and final presentation. Teams of up to four students work together, often guided by a mentor, to design and propose practical solutions that can be implemented to address water scarcity, improve water quality, or increase access to clean water. The challenge not only fosters innovation but also emphasizes the importance of sustainability and social impact, preparing participants to be future leaders in the field of water technology.


The teams will choose one of the following challenge statements to work on:


  • Challenge Statement 1 - REDUCING OCEAN PLASTIC WASTE AND MINIMIZING IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

  • Challenge Statement 2 - LOWERING INDIRECT GHG EMISSIONS THROUGH REMOTE MONITORING, SERVITIZATION PROCESSES, AND EFFICIENT DESIGNS

  • Challenge Statement 3 - RAISING AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABILITY IN THE WATER INDUSTRY AND MINIMIZING WATER WASTE


Who is eligible?

To participate in the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge:


  • Participants must be at least 13 years old and no more than 25 years old at the start of the challenge.

  • If a participant is under 18 years of age, a Parent/Guardian Consent & Release form, which can be obtained during registration, must be submitted. Failure to do so will end in disqualification of participation at the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge.

  • All participants must be legal residents of the United States or a qualifying country, as defined in the BeMyApp Eligibility Policy, here.

  • All participants must be registered on the Contest Platform.


Is the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge prestigious?

The Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge is highly prestigious due to its focus on addressing critical global water issues and its backing by Xylem. The competition attracts talented students from around the world, offering a platform to showcase innovative solutions that can make a significant impact on water sustainability and accessibility. 


Winning (or even participating!) in this challenge can enhance a student’s academic and professional profile and provide opportunities for networking with industry experts and potential career advancement in the field of water technology.


When is the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge?

The Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge takes place annually, with registration opening several months before the competition's start date. For 2024, the competition began on March 15, 2024, and the deadline to submit the final presentation videos and projects was on May 8, 2024. The projects were reviewed by the judges between May 8-20 and the winners were announced in late May.


How can I register?

To register for the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge, interested students must complete an online application form available on the competition’s website. The registration process usually involves providing team details, including member names, educational backgrounds, and a brief description of the project idea. After registration, teams can access various resources and support to help them develop their projects and prepare for the competition as they tackle specific challenge statements. 


What do the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge winners receive as prizes?

For high school students, the grand prize is $5,000, and other opportunities to win prizes include the Challenge Prize (awarded to 3 teams for $1,000 each) and the People’s Choice award for $500. The winning teams will be recognized during a virtual awards ceremony with Xylem, and the top teams from each track will be invited to apply for the Xylem Ignite Innovation Incubator, to further develop their projects


Tips & resources to win the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge:

Now that you have a solid understanding of the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge and its format, it’s time to go into how you can spend some time preparing for the competition. Here are 8 tips that can help you perform well, and even win the competition!


  1. Understand the challenge prompt thoroughly. Take the time to carefully read and understand the current year’s challenge prompt and guidelines. Knowing exactly what the competition is asking for will help you align your project with the objectives and expectations of the judges. Pay attention to the specific issues and criteria mentioned in the prompt to ensure your solution addresses them effectively.

  2. Form a diverse and skilled team. Assemble a team with members who have diverse skills and backgrounds, including areas like engineering, science, and project management. A diverse team brings multiple perspectives and strengths to the table, which can lead to more innovative and well-rounded solutions. Make sure each member has a clear role and understands their responsibilities to ensure smooth collaboration and productivity.

  3. Leverage official resources and workshops.  Utilize the resources provided by Xylem, such as webinars, workshops, and mentorship programs. These resources are designed to guide you through the competition and provide insights into successful project development. Taking advantage of these opportunities can help you understand industry standards and expectations, giving your project a competitive edge.

  4. Research past winners and their projects. Study the projects of past winners to understand what made them successful and how they addressed the competition's challenges. Analyzing these projects can provide valuable insights into effective approaches and common pitfalls. Use this knowledge to inform and refine your project, ensuring that it meets the high standards set by previous winners.

  5. Focus on practicality and impact. Ensure that your solution is not only innovative but also practical and implementable. Consider the feasibility of your project in real-world scenarios and its potential impact on water sustainability and accessibility. Judges are looking for solutions that can be realistically applied and make a meaningful difference, so prioritize practical designs and scalability in your project.

  6. Develop a strong prototype, if applicable. Creating a working prototype can significantly enhance your project’s credibility and demonstrate its feasibility. A well-developed prototype helps judges visualize how your solution works and its potential effectiveness. Invest time and resources in building a functional model that showcases the core features and benefits of your innovation.

  7. Seek feedback and iterate. Throughout the development process, seek feedback from mentors, peers, and industry experts. Constructive criticism can help you identify weaknesses and areas for improvement in your project. Use this feedback to make iterative improvements and refine your solution to ensure it is as strong and competitive as possible.

  8. Prepare a compelling presentation. Your project presentation is a crucial aspect of the competition, as it conveys your ideas and findings to the judges. Develop a clear and engaging presentation that highlights the problem, your solution, and its impact. Use visuals, data, and storytelling techniques to make your presentation memorable and persuasive, ensuring it effectively communicates the significance of your project.

Our Thoughts

Winning the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge requires a combination of thorough understanding, diverse teamwork, and practical innovation. By leveraging official resources, studying past winners, and focusing on a real-world impact, you can craft solutions that stand out. Seeking feedback and preparing a compelling presentation is key to effectively communicating your ideas and demonstrating the feasibility of your project. With dedication and strategic planning, you can excel in this prestigious competition and contribute meaningfully to global water challenges.



Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to participate in a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 


Image Source: Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge logo

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