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Screen capture of a zoom meeting about clean water solutions

March 5, 2021

MVC, Iraq Students Working
to Solve Clean Water Issues Globally

Twenty-seven Moreno Valley College students are participating in the IREX Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge. The students from the College are working in conjunction with students from Iraq in order to develop clean water solutions.

IREX is a nonprofit organization committed to global development and education. IREX works with partners in more than 100 countries in four areas essential to progress — empowering youth, cultivating leaders, strengthening institutions, and extending access to quality education and information.

The program, Global Solutions Conversations, 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. It is funded by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the US Department of State, with funding provided by the US government and is administered by the Aspen Institute.

A clean water solution is one of the United Nation's 17 global goals. Currently it is estimated that 750 million people globally don't have access to clean water with the problem worsening every year.

Last November, Kasey Nguyen, Ph.D., MVC associate professor of Computer Information Systems, received an invitation to participate in the Global Solutions Conversations from Nassef Girgis, director of the Riverside Community College District Study Abroad Program. With study abroad programs grounded due to the pandemic, educators have turned to virtual projects to keep the ideas and learning flowing.

Nguyen said she was onboard after doing a little research. She wasn't the only one.

"In early February, I contacted Global Solutions to follow up on the status of the program application and was told that the program would be on standby because they received an overwhelming number of applications," Nguyen said.

With word that Global Solutions had paused the project due to the overwhelming response, Nguyen was prepared to press forward with an in-house project.

"I informed Global Solutions and (iMaker Innovation) iTeam that we will still pursue the project with MVC students and community members," she said. "I had already planned lessons and secured the needed equipment in January."

She also had reached out for the assistance from the MVC iMake Innovation staff. The College’s proposal consisted of students learning design thinking, 3D design and programming while working in teams to produce a 3D printed water filter and a program for electronic sensors for a reservoir using Arduino.

But then the email came.

On February 18, Nguyen received notification of acceptance for the program. To attract MVC students, Nguyen worked with faculty, staff, the STEM Center, iMake Innovation Center and went as far as listing the project on EventBrite.

Omar Bashir from Koya Technical Institute in Iraq and his team will work alongside the MVC students. Beginning March 4, sessions will be held every subsequent Thursday at 8 am, meaning Iraq, which is 11 hours ahead of California, will be in class at 7 pm.

When it is all said and done, Nguyen hopes to have "introduced students to collaborative practices, teamwork, cultural awareness, education diversity, and design thinking in building solutions to address global issues using technology."

 

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