MIT's Global Challenge launches

Last night, we stopped by the launch of MIT’s Global Challenge in New York City. At the intersection of “innovation, development, enterprise, action, and service”, the competition is part of MIT’s “celebration of 150 years of service to the world.”

Program Director Lars Torres explained that the Global Challenge came out of the success of MIT’s IDEAS Competition, which has awarded prizes to student teams for outstanding pubic service innovation since 2001.  Global Challenge takes that competition one step further by connecting students, alumni, and faculty via a web-based ‘marketplace’ to identify urgent needs from communities around the globe, addressing those needs through innovation and collaboration, and conducting an annual competition to award up to $25,000 to the best ideas that tackle problems in underserved communities.

A few groups of MIT students and alumni presented their innovations during the evening.  Jeevikah is working towards overcoming the water scarcity issue in India with a large-scale, tent-like water catchment system. Another group, Maa-Bara, is addressing oil pollution, water shortages, and nutrition issues in Nigeria by prototyping a structure for aquaponic production of fruits and vegetables that bypasses the region’s overwhelming contamination. MIT alum David Reich discussed lessons learned from his mobile employment solution, AssuredLabor, which he launched after winning the 2008 IDEAS prize. 

An MIT alumna and early supporter of the program Burt Kaliski summarized that the program's real value lies in its ability to enable students to “apply their knowledge and passion for technology to problems in the world.”

IDEAS and Global Challenge award winners will be announced on May 2, but before then voting is open to the public for the community choice awards between April 6-25. Cast your ballot to support your favorite project.

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