Venturing into Cleaner Air

NYU Shanghai’s  Xiaoyue Gong ’17, Yuting Gong '17 and Yu Zhou '17, and Stern’s Andrew Chee '16  won the 2015-16 NYU Reynolds Changemaker Challenge (CmC) for their ingenious Aeolian Air Butler -- a smart air-purifying roving system with potential to change the way the world breathes indoors. The team enjoyed the mentorship of Professor Matthew Belanger and the invaluable coaching from Professor Adam Brandenburger, both of NYU Shanghai.

“Air pollution is not only affecting the well-being of our friends, family and ourselves, but also undermining development and opportunities for people inside and outside China. Aeolian envisions an international future for itself where it combats air pollution effects across countries and continents,” said Xiaoyue Gong.

Motivated to empower China’s 700 million smartphone-owning urban residents, Xiaoyue Gong and her team deployed their ingenuity to solve the very real challenge of delivering cleaner air to apartments, often shared by multi-generation households, that only have one air purifier to serve several rooms.  The winning team built a series of sensors that look like decorative mobiles that hang in different rooms and communicate with an app that controls a robotized air purifier in such a way that anyone can send it to the room that has the most need at any given time, using their smartphones. The winning presentation included an in-depth business plan for an ethical, student-run and led venture with the potential to have a positive impact in communities across China and around the world.

In addition to the US$ 10,000 grand prize, the winning team will have access to sponsored resources to further develop what they describe as “a product-based, for-profit social venture that combats the severe health effects of China's air pollution by offering a smart indoor air-purifying system.”
The CmC, sponsored by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Program in Social Entrepreneurship, is an opportunity for NYU undergraduate students to fulfill their visions of sustainable and scalable social change. Selected teams are awarded US$ 1,000 seed grants as well as additional support from Reynolds. One team is awarded a grand prize of up to US$ 10,000, a host of Reynolds-sponsored resources and the title of "The NYU Reynolds Best Overall Venture."  The foundation is designed to attract, encourage and train a new generation of leaders in public service. Each year, the program will expose a highly selective group of graduate and undergraduate students from throughout New York University to the cross-disciplinary skills, experiences and networking opportunities needed to advance and support their efforts to realize sustainable and scalable pattern-breaking solutions to society's most intractable problems.