Western's Ideas for Sustainability & the Environment (WISE)


  • November 26, 2018
    Launch Competition
    January 13, 2019 at midnight
    WISE Application Due
  • January 8–18, 2019
    Judges review applications and select up to 5 finalists for each category (graduate and undergraduate)
  • February 1, 2019
    Finalists notified, request 8 page report
  • February 25, 2019
    8-page reports submitted
  • February 26 – March 8, 2019
    Judges review submissions
  • Week of March 18, 2019
    Applicant presentations, judges to determine winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd) for each category
  • Winners announced at the Innovation and Impact Symposium, March 29, 1:30pm-2:30pm, International and Graduate Affairs Building (IGAB) Atrium.

About WISE

Western’s Ideas for Sustainability and the Environment (WISE) Competition was established in 2014 to foster innovative and high-impact ideas that reduce or eliminate today’s most pressing environmental concerns. The aim of the competition is to generate ideas and initiatives among Western’s students around the topic of sustainability, and officially recognize the winning ideas.  

The establishment of the competition aligns with Western’s commitment to the Council of Ontario Universities Statement on Creating a Sustainable Environment. This statement acknowledges that Ontario’s universities have special responsibilities on three fronts:

  • To assist in finding solutions to the challenges of environmental sustainability;
  • To share knowledge about environment and sustainability; and
  • To incorporate principles of sustainability into our own operations wherever possible

Separate competitions have been established for undergraduate and graduate students. Over the course of three months, students are encouraged to identify a current environmental problem faced at an institutional, local or global level, and highlight their idea(s) for mitigating this problem. Social and economic considerations must be included. Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee, and finalists within each competition will be invited to pitch their idea to the committee in a brief oral presentation. The competition is open to individuals and teams of two or three. The grand prize for the winning proposal within each competition will be $1,500.

Selection criteria

Western will award novel, yet well-developed ideas that aim to reduce society’s environmental footprint. We are looking for your ideas on what needs to be done, how it could be done, how much it will cost/save and what the expected outcomes are. Ideas can be around waste reduction, the increase of public transportation or cycling, implementation of green roofs, inventions geared towards reducing environmental impacts, etc. It is important to address environmental (e.g., how much water is being saved?), societal (e.g., how will this improve human health?) and economic (e.g., will this lead to commercialization of a new product?) aspects. Entries can be made by single applicants or teams. The selection committee reserves the right to not award prizes, based on the quality of the applications.

Selection Committee

Two faculty and two staff are selected to sit on the WISE Competition Committee for the 2019 academic year:


  1. Jason Gerhard, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  2. Paul Mensink, Chair, Collaborative Specialization in Environment and Sustainability


  1. Matt Mills, Health & Safety Consultant
  2. Heather Hyde, Associate Director, Facilities Engineering

WISE Application

Click here to complete and submit the application.