Eric Smith & Pushan Panda

Occupation: Student
Project: NIVARA
Country: United States



We are a team of two students from the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry. We both have a passion for innovation and a desire to use technology, design and creative strategies to change the way that people interact with their environment. We believe that creative solutions can be used to solve many of today’s most pressing problems.

Eric Smith is a solutions engineer and student at SAICE. Currently studying marine biology and genetics along with sustainable engineering. He is passionate about finding solutions to make the world a better place.

Pushan Panda is a creative technologist and recent graduate from SAICE with a degree in design. As a previous resident artist at Autodesk, San Francisco he has gained extensive experience in digital fabrication and industrial design.


After encountering the incredible properties of activated carbon and learning about how it is made today, we were determined to create activated carbon using renewable energy so that it is accessible to those would benefit the most from its water purification properties. We set out to create a device that could be used to create activated carbon using only solar energy. After three prototypes we have successfully harnessed the power of the sun to activate carbon. We believe that good design has the potential to change the lives of the most vulnerable people.


Our creative process is based upon creating solutions that are simple and robust. Our creative process entails carefully distilling intuitive ideas and evaluating their potential through incubation and design iteration. By embedding ourselves in challenging environments we are able to design unique and innovative solutions.  This has enabled us to create complex devices and systems which are still affordable and feasible to produce with the lowest levels of fabrication and technical knowledge.



Almost a billion people are forced to collect water from open water bodies. As a result, an estimated 4,000 children die each day from water related diseases. Nivara is a is a scalable, low tech, activated charcoal producing unit that runs on solar energy. The unit delivers high grade activated charcoal for use in a slow sand or similar filter to greatly enhance water purification standards. The device places the power to create filters in the hands of the people who use them, providing them with enough activated carbon daily to filter up to 20,000 litres of water.


View this project on the Challenge Platform