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Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge

April 28, 2021

IREX Global Solutions Cites Students for Student Leadership


Although a team of students from Moreno Valley College's Biology-61 course was not invited to make their pitch at the Virtual Global Business Expo, Team Auter, which was composed of students from the College and Soran University in KRI, Iraq, was recognized for "fantastic student leadership."

The students were part of the IREX Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge which is built upon a curriculum for a virtual exchange conversation on sustainability, design thinking, and cross-cultural communication. The purpose of the program is to provide a unique virtual exchange experience for students to practice empathy and cross-cultural communication skills as they learn about design thinking and ideate a sustainable solution to a real problem in the community.

Despite no component or background in business, the students showed tremendous ability in leading a bi-national team, said Joanna Werner-Fraczek, Ph.D., professor of Biology.

"Since the Bio-61 course is not a business-oriented course, it was difficult for our students to flourish in an environment where other teams were composed of students from business courses," she said. "However, the ability to develop productive communication despite cultural differences and an 11-hour time difference speaks highly about our students being open minded and collaborative. They went the extra mile to build bridges of friendship and communication. This is a soft skill that is hard for many to achieve yet essential in the job market."

Team Auter designed a solution that included the use of a sensor connected to a house water meter and is controlled by an app using WIFI (Wireless Fidelity) so it can be accessed 24 hours day from any location. The invention would not only minimize the amount of water used in a household, but also help homeowners save money. Explore their video pitch and business concept here.

In all, 27 binational teams and 611 students from Jordan, Iraq and the US competed to develop sustainable business concepts. The challenge was to use technology in order to continue to provide sustainable development while meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations. In other words, how to develop greater sustainability in and through the technology industry using these three pillars: people, planet and profit.

Teams investigated the technology industry within their local communities, collaborated globally, and innovated real-life solutions through the human-centered design process. Concepts were featured in the Virtual Global Business Fair. A panel of judges reviewed the submissions to determine who will be invited to compete in the Virtual Global Business Expo for funds to continue developing their concepts.

The Global Solutions Program is funded by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. It is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

"We also need to thank the RCCD Study Abroad program and Director Girgis Nassef for providing this opportunity for our students," Werner-Fraczek said. "Despite the pandemic, the program has remained actively involved in finding opportunities to expose students to cultural experiences."