Ideas and implementation blend seamlessly at Grand Challenge Udupi 2019
MANIPAL: The Social Work Program, Prasanna School of Public Health (PSPH) in collaboration with the Innovation Centre of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and Udupi District Administration conducted the ‘Grand Challenge Udupi 2019’ on March 8 and 9 at Idea Café, Manipal. The challenge was open to all students and institutions across MAHE, wherein various faculty members and students formed teams to register for the event, identify problems with the underprivileged in the society, and formulate practical solutions.
The aim of the entire initiative was to enable and provide opportunities to young thinkers and students, increase their awareness of the multitude of problems people surrounding them face, and find innovative and creative solutions to the problems. Purnima Venkat, Assistant Professor of Masters in Social Work Program at PSPH said, “We genuinely believe that the youth definitely have the ability to stump us with the creativity of their ideas and unless we involve them in the development dialogue of the future, we cannot expect sustainable long-term change to happen.”
The event took place in three stages – the registration, the mentor workshop, and the hackathon. The themes for the event ranged from helping underprivileged pregnant women who face intensive labour conditions, to zero-waste toilets that convert waste into manure to fertilise soil. Other interesting concepts like helping the Kumbashi community to expand their business by modifying their handicraft products, and marketing the use of cloth pads against sanitary pads also turned heads.
The mentor workshop was held on March 2, where mentors from different fields evaluated the presentations by the teams and gave valuable feedback for them to further build on their idea. The primary objective of the mentor workshop was to encourage and guide the students along with suggesting inputs so that the solutions contain solid value. “We genuinely want to see an outcome coming from such ideas. The mentors felt enriched through the process because they were able to contribute to a journey,” added Purnima Venkat.
On March 8, the teams were given the freedom to collaborate with each other and re-register their teams to confirm the problems and solutions that they were going to be working on. The final presentations were conducted on March 9, in front of a panel of six judges, comprising of senior faculty members and field representatives.
According to Arun Shanbhag, Chief Innovation Officer, MAHE, the reason to conduct this event was to reach out to a different type of the student population in Manipal. “The teams may or may not succeed in developing a product for this project, but they are thinking out of the box. Seeing the students here working productively on their projects on a Friday afternoon is not something one would expect, but here they are. That is a success for me,” he said.
Talking about what was expected from the contenders, Abhinav Kumar Singh, a third-year Mechanical Engineering student at Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) said, “As participants, we are supposed to research elaborately to get a real-life problem statement and then develop a real-life solution which is feasible by both the economic and social aspects of the idea.” When asked about her experience, Rima Pai, a final-year student of Bachelor in Culinary Arts, Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA), commented, “If our motive of making a nutrition bar for the underprivileged children works, then it would really have an impact on their future. We are a bit nervous but confident at the same time because we’ve tried to put across something that is quite different from the other teams.”
After much anticipation and hard work, the teams managed to bring out extremely vivid and creative projects using PowerPoint, 3D modelling, charts and posters and presented them with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. The judges walked around the room and carefully assessed each team’s work based on their understanding of the problem, the solution’s innovativeness, the operational details of the solution, its applicability in society, and the creativity and presentation skills of the presenters.
“Being students of architecture, we are trained to think out of the box. But this was something different where we had to come up with a very practical solution. This was an important aspect of our idea. Accordingly, we got the right kind of input from the mentor workshop which moulded our project into what it is at this stage,” said Sahitya Pydipati, a fourth-year architecture student.
Dr Harisha G Joshi, Professor at School of Management and one of the judges stated, “The students effortlessly portrayed the potential of possible community development progress. However, many projects failed to reflect the business aspect of the ideas. If the business angle is tapped, the ideas can develop well in the future.”
The event came to an end with the announcement of the winners. There was no order of the prizes that were declared. The three teams which emerged as winners were ‘Share for Care’ and ‘Tribal Art Skill Source’ from PSPH and ‘Bar Grains’ from WGSHA. The winners bagged a cash prize of Rs 10,000 each and certificates, of which the organisers awarded half the share of the cash prize for team effort and utilised the rest as a seed fund for the implementation of the projects in the future.
Featured Image Courtesy: Vanessa Shingare
Edited by: Karthika Venugopal