13 Global Development Students are Finalists and Winners at Ideas2Serve 2019

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Students in the INTA/ME 4744 Global Development Capstone course (taught every Spring by Prof. Neha Kumar) presented their research at the annual, campus-wide Ideas to Serve (I2S) competition this past April. All four teams (of 12 students) were chosen to be finalists on the Problem Discovery track, while three of them also won awards — winning second and third place, and the special MBA award.

The Global Development Capstone course taught by Neha Kumar, an assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs with a joint appointment in the School of Interactive Computing, enabled students to address local and global issues aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Students taking this course are all Global Development minors, and their research focused on food insecurity and food deserts, studying menstrual stigma, addressing gender equity in makerspaces in India, and mitigating the impact of cow waste. The student groups included:

  • Julian Acosta, Mia Floyd, and Carrie Wehmeyer, who won second place with a prize of $1,500 for OASIS, a project which studied the challenge of food insecurity and food deserts in Atlanta, doing a comparison between the Bankhead and Buckhead communities

  • Emily Finger, Elianna Paljug, and Abby Gyger, who received third place with a reward of  $1,000 for their project Code Red, which studied menstrual stigma and how it compares across India and the US

  • Zoie Konneker and Taylor Reitano, who won the MBA award with a monetary prize of $500 for Manewr, a project around mitigating the impact of cow waste on the environment  

  • Niya Abdulkadir, Nathalia de Castro, Raegan Allister, and Julia Lan, who were the MakerGhat Girls, studying ways of introducing STEM education in a makerspace for girls from slum communities of Mumbai, India

Azra Ismail, a first-year Ph.D. student in the area of Human-Centered Computing for Global Development and advised by Kumar, won first place ($3,000) for her dissertation project Chitra–understanding the challenges and opportunities of designing data collection tools from the perspective of (women) community health workers in the Global South. She also received the special Cupcakes Without Borders award for Best Problem Definition.

I2S allows Georgia Tech students and recent alums an opportunity to showcase their ideas and passions towards solving environmental and/or social issues. The 2019 competition had one change, which was its push away from the erstwhile Ideas and Solutions tracks to the Problem Discovery and Solution Discovery tracks. The Problem Discovery Track was for students interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of a complex local or global issue without proposing a solution. Students with more advanced knowledge of a topic could compete in the Solutions Discovery Track, proposing particular solutions.

Students wanting to compete were required to select a track, and submit an executive summary as well as a 90-second video summary of their research. Once finalists were selected, students prepared a poster mapping their findings and presented at the poster showcase, where a group of expert judges from across Georgia Tech and the wider Atlanta community selected the winners.

Neha Kumar, who has served as a judge several times for the I2S competition, the Global Social Venture Competition, and UC Berkeley’s Big Ideas competition, had all 13 of her student entrants be finalists for this year’s I2S. “It’s incredible that Georgia Tech provides these opportunities for students to recognize that there’s value in directing their energy and disciplinary training towards social impact. I could not be more proud!” Kumar said.


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