SFU students participating in the Oxford Global Challenge. Photo Credit: SFU Student Engagement and Retention.

Student competition tackles global issues with innovative solutions

March 24, 2017

By Amy Farahbakhsh, Student Engagement and Retention

The SFU Charles Chang Innovation Centre was abuzz with activity on February 17 as students across faculties got ready to pitch projects for the Oxford Global Challenge.

University-wide competitions are new to SFU and are here to stay, with plans in the works for a similar SFU-organized competition. Leading up to the Innovation Centre pitch, teams rolled up their sleeves to dig deep into social and environmental issues. Projects were diverse and ranged from refugee transition to hearing aid availability in developing countries, with the common thread being the depth and breadth of research.

For the Oxford Global Challenge, students were asked to reach beyond their discipline and team up with fellow students in different faculties. Teams were encouraged to think and research outside of the box, bringing a critical eye and acquiring first-hand information from those most intimately involved. Some projects were based on existing coursework or research, while others used this opportunity to learn more about an issue that they wanted to explore further.

This was no small feat, and teams worked step-by-step to prepare their submissions. With support from RADIUSStudent Engagement and Retention, and specialized coaches, students worked out their ideas and impactful ways of presenting them.

The top SFU team presented their research on medical waste– they highlighted the prevalence of single-use implements and overstocking in hospitals, the social and environmental impact of this waste and suggested interventions, such as adjusted ordering and training. The team will be competing at the Canadian finals of the Global Challenge coming up this weekend in Calgary from March 24-26. The top two teams from Canada will travel to Oxford to compete at the international level.

Student competitions are increasing in popularity in part because they provide an opportunity for students to investigate a topic that they care about and practice research and communication. Grades are not on the line, however students often receive recognition and sometimes cash prizes.

Watch for more opportunities to participate in other student competitions at SFU, and visit our Get Involved website for more information.

For more information about the top SFU teams in the challenge and their projects, visit this page.