Focus on sustainability: successful student innovation projects at Széchenyi István University

Sustainability and circular economy were the focus of recent student innovation projects at Széchenyi István University. The young people came up with innovative solutions to four real-world business and organisational problems, with one team, for example, carrying out an energy audit of the Győr ice rink, which could help the club make significant savings.

The Student Innovation Project (HIP) programme of the Management Campus Competence Centre of Széchenyi István University was launched in 2019. Students from different fields of study work together in multidisciplinary teams of 4-5 people on development tasks set by partner companies and organisations, with the help of mentor teachers. Since its launch, the programme has attracted more than 30 partner companies, institutions and nearly 200 students.

The latest call focused on the circular economy, energy management, waste management and, more broadly, sustainability.

"The Department of Applied Sustainability is leading the KEHOP 3.1.5 "Regional waste awareness and innovation pilot project", which aims to raise awareness on regional waste management. This was the inspiration for the topic of the previous semester's calls for proposals, which will remain the focus of the current semester's call for proposals", explained Dr. András Torma, Head of the Department. He added that four teams took part in the recently concluded round of student projects, which included the Győri ETO Hockey Club's "Green ice rink - green club", Wahl Hungária Kft.'s "Waste management", Otto Fuchs Hungary Kft.'s "Roll into work" and the municipality of Dunaszentpál's "Green waste management problems of small villages".

„The students demonstrated not only considerable theoretical knowledge, but also excellent practical problem-solving skills and teamwork. For example, one team helped the project company to draw up a waste management map of where and what waste is generated, how it is collected and how it is used efficiently. The students have laid the foundations for a new waste management concept which, in addition to efficiency, also contributes to sustainability, including circular solutions," he said.

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The student team implementing the "Green Ice Rink - Green Club" project with their mentor, Dr. Judit Pécsinger, Assistant Professor of Applied Sustainability (second from left) (Photo: Márton Horváth)

Another student team brought a complete energy audit and a set of proposals to Győri ETO HC and the Győr Ice Sports Foundation. "The relevance of the topic in the current energy price and energy supply challenges perhaps needs no emphasis, and the young people were able to put together real solutions that would have a significant impact on the wallet, and they brought professionally prepared material to the table. It is particularly gratifying that anything that saves money in the energy sector also means a lower environmental impact," said the head of department.

"In the world of sport, operating ice rinks is one of the most energy-intensive areas, so we looked for alternative solutions. To plan this, it is important to see where we are now. The aim of the innovation project was to analyse this situation, and the students of Széchenyi István University did a better job than expected. They carried out an in-depth, professional and detailed analysis.

They found that our starting position is good, the improvements made so far are adequate, but they also developed proposals based on alternative energy sources that could lead to a more energy-efficient sports centre that could be run cost-effectively. We would also like to present the results to the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation, which has now started a comprehensive energy review of its domestic ice halls. Our goals are pointing in one direction: we want to create a sustainable operation of ice sports", said László Horváth, member of the board of Győri ETO HC.

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Student suggestions will also help to increase the energy efficiency of the Győr Ice Hall (Photo: Csaba József Májer)

The students made several suggestions, from among which the Sport Association is planning to utilise the installation of solar panels and the use of geothermal energy to replace gas.

"The use of renewable energy sources leads to greener operations and contributes to sustainability, which is also a concern of mine as an environmental expert."- he stressed.

Dr András Torma concluded that all the teams participating in the HIP programme had done a great job, that they could be proud of the knowledge they had acquired at Széchenyi University and that their practical experience would be of great value in the labour market.

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