Lake War­riors Sahithi Pin­gali

Be­hind the starry lu­mi­nes­cence which Sahithi Pin­gali finds her­self in to­day is a heart made of green gold. Her suc­cess can be at­trib­uted to her in­nate abil­ity to amal­ga­mate sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, civic con­cern and a col­lab­o­ra­tive mind­set. Yet, it is ap­paren

Sustainabilitynext - - Front Page - By SN Team

Sahithi Pin­gali, a grade 12 stu­dent from In­ven­ture Academy, Bengaluru, won sev­eral awards at most com­pe­ti­tions she en­tered in the last one year. The list is long. At The In­ter­na­tional Sus­tain­able World Engi­neer­ing En­ergy En­vi­ron­ment Project) Olympiad held in Hous­ton, (ISWEEEP) Texas, re­cently Sahithi Pin­gali won the Gold Medal for her re­search on ‘An In­no­va­tive Crowd sourc­ing Ap­proach to Mon­i­tor­ing Fresh­wa­ter Bod­ies’.

At the IN­TEL ISEF in­ter­na­tional finals, she won 3 spe­cial awards in ad­di­tion to plac­ing over­all sec­ond in the cat­e­gory Earth and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences. ISEF is the world’s largest in­ter­na­tional high school STEM (sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics) com­pe­ti­tion. Cre­ated and run by So­ci­ety for Sci­ence & the Public (SSP), it has been hon­or­ing young re­searchers since 1950. Spon­sored by In­tel, ISEF this year brought to­gether stu­dents from 78 coun­tries.

At the ISWEEEP award cer­e­mony Sahithi said: “The in­ter­est­ing thing about my project is that it’s all about crowd-sourc­ing; get­ting stu­dents and cit­i­zens to con­trib­ute sci­en­tific data. Our Lakes Our Voice was the in­spi­ra­tion for this – it was the ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment of my team mem­bers at In­ven­ture that con­vinced me that high school stu­dents were ca­pa­ble of gath­er­ing such re­li­able data, while in­creas­ing their en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and knowl­edge of sci­ence. I hope stu­dents all over Ban­ga­lore will take this as a call for ac­tion to adopt lakes and lead the way for the rest of the world.”

Sahithi was first ex­posed to the im­pact of de­vel­op­ment on Ban­ga­lore’s life­line – our net­work of lakes – in July 2015, when she won a schol­ar­ship from In­ven­ture to par­tic­i­pate in the Amer­i­can In­dia Foun­da­tion (AIF) pro­gram, to study the im­pact of ur­ban de­vel­op­ment on scarce re­sources. She was also part of the In­ven­ture team that par­tic­i­pated in the OLOV (an In­ven­ture Change Maker ini­tia­tive) aimed at stu­dents from AIF and In­ven­ture do­ing an ex­pe­ri­en­tial case study on Varthur Lake, a 450-acre water body in In­ven­ture’s vicin­ity.

The team’s find­ings through OLOV prompted Sahithi and her team to re­search the var­i­ous fac­tors that con­trib­ute to the pollution of our water bod­ies through sur­veys, ses­sions with ex­perts, and in­ter­view­ing peo­ple who live and work around the lakes, while car­ry­ing out reg­u­lar test­ing on ten dif­fer­ent Ban­ga­lore lakes, for over a year.

Mo­bile Phone App

Sahithi de­vel­oped an in­te­grated mo­bile phone app and lake mon­i­tor­ing kit which is be­ing used to vi­su­al­ize chang­ing lake con­di­tions by crowd-sourc­ing lake mon­i­tor­ing to cit­i­zens and stu­dents. All the col­lected data feeds into a live web-based water health map of the world which au­to­mat­i­cally in­di­cates the sta­tus of each mon­i­tored water body.

Sahithi is at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan pur­su­ing an in­tern­ship un­der Pro­fes­sor Lut­garde Raskin in the En­vi­ron­men­tal & Water Re­sources Engi­neer­ing Cen­tre within the Civil & En­vi­ron­men­tal Engi­neer­ing De­part­ment

Sahithi’s work, along with hun­dreds of vol­un­teers and cit­i­zens of Bengaluru, could re­sult in the city re­gain­ing its lost glory as the city of lakes. Her con­tri­bu­tion is spe­cial be­cause suc­cess of any move­ment is pos­si­ble only if civic ac­tivism is driven by tech­nol­ogy and dy­namic col­lab­o­ra­tion.

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