Maryam Khan and Danielle Hanes, '15, introduce the Global Problem Solving Competition in STEPS 101 on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2015. This event was hosted by the Global Union and is one of the events being offered during International Week. (Joanna Targowski/B&W Photo)

Global problem solving event addresses sustainability


An alumni network for the displaced, a 100-gallon water tank and “LinkedIn for Refugees” were among the many ideas presented at this week’s Global Problem Solving Event.

Friday’s program, which was part the Global Union’s International Week, was co-sponsored by the Baker Institute, the Sustainable Development Department, Engineers Without Borders and the TAMID Israel Investment Group. According to Danielle Hanes, ’16, the president of the Global Union, each of the sponsors was chosen specifically for the occasion.

“When I first conceptualized the event, I realized that if I wanted business and engineering students to come, we needed to have cosponsors who would bring in those types of students,” Hanes said.

The scenario presented to students was also more specific than in previous years. Participants were tasked with developing a product or non-profit business that addressed the problems of a Syrian refugee camp.

“We really wanted to shift gears this year, which is why we did something more current or pressing in the news,” Hanes said.

While working in groups of no more than four, students were introduced to the scenario and were given an hour to prepare a presentation for a panel of judges. The panel, which consisted of two members of the Global Union executive board and two professors, offered advice and feedback to the contestants for the first half hour of the challenge. One judge, Paras Khan, ’16, said he was looking for an idea that could allow the refugees to thrive in the camps while also giving them the possibility of a future beyond them.

“The most important thing that I’m going to be looking at is how the students integrate the refugees into society as a whole,” Khan said, who also serves as the vice president of member programming for the Global Union.

A variety of student majors and interests were on display as each group described how they had approached the challenge.

“For me, focusing on health education, taking care of people and training new doctors is really important,” said Tori Aitken, ’19, who participated in the event.

Aitken’s group envisioned a partnership between Doctors Without Borders and displaced Syrian doctors to aid and educate others in the camps.

The winning idea eventually went to the developers of “WaterBrick,” a brick-shaped water bottle that could be converted into a building tool after use. The judges praised seniors Sebastian Nowak, ’16, Kris Datta, ’16, Chris Zadra, ’16, and Minni Kim, ’16, for their vision of an economically feasible and sustainable product.

International Week will be taking place across Lehigh’s campus through Nov. 14 with more than 30 events planned for students.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave A Reply