Earth911 Podcast: Adarsh Ambati, 2020 International Young Eco-Hero Innovation Award Winner

Earth911 Podcast Innovator Interview

Feeling like the world can’t survive 2020? Take a few minutes to meet 15-year-old Adarsh Ambati of San Jose, Calif., winner of the Innovation prize in the 2020 International Young Eco-Hero Awards to discover why there is hope.

Adarsh and 16 other 8- to 12-year-olds and 13- to 16-year olds were recognized this month for their contributions to global sustainability. Adarsh’s story is an inspiration that will get you looking at your world with a new eye for positive change. He’s also one of the most well-spoken young people you’ll meet. He explains how everyone can take action with clear and inspiring lessons he learned after inventing a neighborhood sprinkler monitoring system at age 11 during California’s drought. His inspiration was waste he observed around him on a drive when he saw a sprinkler running during a rare rainstorm in the Bay Area.

Adarsh Ambati, winner of the 2020 International Young Eco-Hero Award for innovation

Adarsh Ambati, winner of the 2020 International Young Eco-Hero Award for innovation.

Adarsh took about a year to develop a Raspberry Pi-based controller that connects water sensors, weather data, local watering regulations, and social media to provide local watering guidance. He trialed the device with 10 neighbors and found that they could have saved 50,000 gallons of water in just two months. His $50 device was a fraction of the cost of competing sprinkler control systems but he went for two years without gaining any traction with local utilities until his project won MagPi Magazine’s 2019 Coolest Projects USA competition. The recognition was followed by support from Raspberry Pi CEO Phil Colligan and local utility Lake Canyon Mutal Water Company in nearby Los Gatos, Calif., which is planning to trial the device with its customers.

At 15, he’s got a successful invention and, as a side-gig, founded Gro-STEMs, a site that sells succulents to provide support to technology training at San Jose’s LifeMoves Homeless Shelter and the Aarti for Girls School for abandoned children in Kadapa, India.

What Adarsh learned would take a lifetime for many people in Silicon Valley, and we urge you to listen to his approach to innovation and the importance of taking criticism constructively, even when it isn’t offered constructively, to develop a successful technology product. He breaks down his three key ideas for sustainable innovation so that anyone can apply changes to the world they find, a world often built on wasteful practices that can be improved. His persistence is an inspiration. You’ll learn a lot from him and we hope you come away from the conversation as energized was we did.

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