One highly impactful capstone project in the Philippines was initiated by students from the Ateneo de Manila University in 2014 called Project NOAH. They sought to address the growing impacts of natural disasters in the country by creating an open-source system to gather and share disaster risk information nationwide. The Philippines experiences over 20 typhoons per year on average and suffers heavily from flooding, earthquakes, and tsunamis due to its geography.
Project NOAH’s capstone team developed an offline-capable web and mobile app platform that allowed communities to view hazard maps, submit reports about disasters, and access crucial preparedness and response data even without internet access. This was a game-changer for remote regions facing connectivity issues. They worked closely with the Philippines’ disaster management agency to gather their hazard and risk data and populate the platform. In just a few years, Project NOAH expanded nationwide and its data and tools have directly helped over 35 million Filipinos prepare for and respond to extreme weather events.
The system has proven instrumental during major typhoons like Haiyan in 2013, the deadliest storm to ever hit the country. Project NOAH’s maps and reports helped direct search and rescue operations as well as aid distribution. Lives have been directly saved thanks to communities understanding their risk levels and knowing where to evacuate. Independent studies estimate Project NOAH has saved over $150 million USD in damages by increasing disaster readiness across the nation. It’s now being used as a model for other developing countries to help build community resilience to climate change impacts.
Another truly impactful capstone project took place from 2012-2014 through a partnership between De La Salle University and various Philippine government agencies tackling environmental concerns. Dubbed Project TRASHman, the team developed an integrated solid waste management system specifically for managing Manila’s garbage crisis. At the time, the Philippines’ capital was overflowing with over 10,000 tons of waste accumulated daily and dumping was haphazard with no organized collection.
Project TRASHman’s main solution was a tech-enabled waste tracking system that used RFID tags and an online dashboard. Tags were attached to garbage trucks and dumpsters to geo-track routes, schedule pickups efficiently, and monitor waste volumes in real-time. Custom mobile apps allowed residents to report clogs and issues. Using spatial analysis, Project TRASHman also produced the first ever comprehensive solid waste master plan for Manila with optimized collection zones and proposed materials recovery facility sites.
Within two years of full implementation, Manila saw a 60% decrease in dumping instances, a 40% reduction in spilled wastes, and tens of millions in annual cost savings from optimized logistics. Project TRASHman helped turn Manila from one of Asia’s filthiest cities to a model for integrated municipal solid waste management. It proved technology can be leveraged to revolutionize whole sectors and dramatically improve living standards when paired with collaborative community solutions.
A third notable Filipino capstone was Project Aksyon Klima initiated in 2018 by Mapúa University students. Concerned with catastrophic impacts of unchecked global warming, they launched a nationwide climate literacy and action campaign to raise public understanding of climate change issues and drive mitigative behaviors. Their multi-pronged solution involved developing educational smartphone apps, informational videos, classroom workshops and public forums across the archipelago.
Project Aksyon Klima’s diligent year of outreach saw climate change conversations quadruple in online spaces. Over 500,000 elementary students directly engaged through workshops to plant seeds early. Consumption surveys found 5-15% reductions in meat and single-use plastic usage in targeted municipalities. By facilitating collective grassroots action on climate aligned with Philippines’ national strategies, Project Aksyon Klima empowered a wave of community-driven emission reduction projects from renewable energy micro-grids to urban gardens.
This capstone exemplifies how raising awareness and fostering local climate leadership can help developing nations leapfrog to greener development pathways despite lacking resources of industrialized countries. Project Aksyon Klima left a sustainable model of youth-mobilized outreach that is still manifesting long-lasting climate solutions nationwide today.
These three innovative capstone projects tackling pressing Philippine issues through technology, data-driven solutions and grassroots engagement have yielded enormously impactful and sustainable outcomes. By building community resilience, revolutionizing waste management systems and cultivating climate action, they exemplify how harnessing student skills and lessons can directly improve millions of lives and help developing countries progress toward UN global goals. Impactful capstone work shows enormous potential to drive public benefit when projects are meaningfully aligned with societal needs.