Innovation

Dalhousie students battle for a better world

It’s the first year Dal has joined the 'World’s Challenge Challenge'

Eighteen Dal students are committed to build a better world.   Sofia Ortega Arrieta

Eighteen students at Dalhousie University are battling over who can come up with a unique solution to some of the biggest problems facing the world.

This competition is part of the “World’s Challenge Challenge,” an initiative where schools across the world compete to come up with an innovative solution to a pressing global issue. The winning team members each receive $1,000. This is Dalhousie’s first time joining the three-year-old competition.

“Our planet is at risk; we have to start thinking of all of us as residents of the planet earth,” said Fiona Black, Dalhousie’s associate vice-president, academic. Black, who helped bring the contest to Dalhousie, said the competition is part of the school’s mandate to “help students and faculty members to think differently about some things.”

Six teams presented their projects on Thursday, Jan. 19 in front of more than a hundred students, along with a few members of the public and a panel of judges. Most projects aim to limit the impact on the environment and improve human health.

Some of the projects in the running:

A bigger conversation between the victims of climate change and the people who fight against it

The Climate Express project aims to connect communities that are suffering from climate change with NGOs, scientists and scholars who can provide them knowledge and skills to become more resilient and collectively create tools to adapt to climate change

“Climate change is the biggest challenge,” said Caitlin Grady, an environmental sustainability and society student at Dalhousie and a Climate Express team member. “If global warming keeps on track … all the other issues are going to get so much worse.”

A low cost, accessible prosthetic made by recycled plastic through a 3D printer

The project’s goal is to set up women in developing countries as business owners who provide low-cost and accessible prosthetics.

“Women are powerful,” said Alicia Roy, a fourth-year biology honours student who is on the team proposing this project. We can think in amazing ideas and most importantly, women who don’t have opportunities have that potential too.”

Roy hopes this project could help protect the environment and empower  women.

An educational program for Tanzania on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding

“Women and babies are dying from very preventable diseases and illnesses that we are not experiencing here in North America,” said Keisha Jefferies, a masters of nursing student and a member of the team working on the breastfeeding project. “We’re almost obligated as global citizens to do something, because we are in a position to help those who may not be in a position to help themselves.”

Jefferies and her team hope that their project can prevent disease in Tanzania.

The goal is to create a breastfeeding knowledge support group that will provide information within their communities based on traditional beliefs and practices.

Keisha Jefferies, Yue Yuan and Nadine Ezzeddine present their breastfeeding project   Sofia Ortega Arrieta

Three out of the six teams will move onto the Dalhousie finals scheduled for mid-February. From the finals, only one team will be selected to represent the school at the International World’s Challenge Challenge. That event will take place at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. on May 17.

A list of finalists will be made available at:  https://www.dal.ca/dept/DALVision.html