Close to 40 MIT student-led teams lined the Stata Center’s Student Street on Friday night to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of judges as part of the IDEAS Global Challenge, an MIT Public Service Center program. Open to the public, the event drew students, administrators, faculty, and others in the MIT community who turned out see the projects.
From using technology to improve sanitation to designing live-saving medical devices, the teams have all entered the IDEAS Global Challenge in the hope of receiving a grant to launch their innovative public service project. The teams are proposing work in 26 different countries in sectors such as water, health care, the environment, and education.
“We provide advice, logistical support, and funding, but the ideas all come from MIT students themselves,” says Keely Swan, the IDEAS Global Challenge administrator. “I think that is what makes IDEAS so exciting and different each year.”
Students have been working on their projects throughout the academic year. Several have received development grants to help with research and prototypes and all have received mentorship and feedback from reviewers along the way. Two teams shared what they hope to accomplish through their work.
June Park ’16 of the MIT-Kepler Education Laboratory says their goal is to “intrigue [Rwandan] students to go into science through hands-on experience, as well provide a skill set that prepares them for industry.” MIT-Kepler Education Laboratory helps design, create, and teach an affordable university-level laboratory for a startup university in Rwanda.
Rena Pacheco-Theard, a grad student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, hopes her Prepify project will “serve an underserved market with the goal of increasing access to education.” Prepify is a free, adaptive, cloud-based SAT preparation tool available to everyone, anywhere in the world, but created specifically for students with lower-income backgrounds.
In addition to how they pitch their projects at the Innovation Showcase, student teams are evaluated on their written proposals with details on the project’s innovation, feasibility, and community service aspects. IDEAS recruits judges from MIT faculty and administrators, as well as from companies, foundations, and non-governmental organizations, and asks them to review proposals and meet with the teams.
This year’s competition will culminate in the awards ceremony on Wed., April 15, which is open to the public. Teams have the opportunity to win up to $10,000 for their projects, which will be implemented over the next 15 months.