Archive for the 'Alumni Engagement' Category

Recap of a Launch

Its been a remarkable six months. Here’s a recap including links to some fun background and outcomes. Thanks to every at MIT and beyond who helped make this year a success, in particular our partners at the MIT150, the MIT Alumni Association, and Idea Couture along with our many sponsors. Download a copy of the interim report here.

Overall Visitor Traffic for the Period

visitor_traffic_google

And the Winners Are…
(Browse teams here: http://globalchallenge.mit.edu/teams)

$5000 Community Choice Awards

  1. LOW COST CURRICULUM FOR THE BLIND
  2. AQUA
  3. INNOBOX SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING TOOLKIT
  4. INDIAN MOBILE INITIATIVE
  5. EYECATRA

$5000, $7500 and $10,000 IDEAS Juried Awards

  1. BIODIESEL – $5000
  2. EYECATRA – $5000
  3. HYDROHARVEST – $5000
  4. LOW-COST CURRICULUM FOR THE BLIND – $5000
  5. SAFE WATER WORLD – $5000
  6. INDIAN MOBILE INITIATIVE – $7500
  7. SOLAR AUTOCLAVE – $7500
  8. INNOBOX – $10,000
  9. LOW-COST AUTOCLAVE – $10,000
  10. ASSISTIVE TECH – $10,000

$10,000 Global Challenge Juried Awards

  1. KOSIM WATER KEG
  2. SOLAR AUTOCLAVE
  3. PRACTICAL ENERGY NETWORK – winner of the School of Engineering’s Global Villages Challenge
  4. INDIAN MOBILE INITIATIVE – congratulations on your sweep in all three award categories!
  5. MAA-BARA – Winner of the Mohammad Yunus Challenge to Alleviate Poverty through Improved Agricultural Processes

Community Choice Voting Participation – Vote Sources

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Community Choice Voting Results

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Continue reading ‘Recap of a Launch’

Press Release: MIT Global Challenge will Launch to Worldwide Community January 7, 2011

Contact: Lars Hasselblad Torres
617-999-5294
lhtorres@mit.edu

Be A Part of ItCambridge, MA — The MIT Global Challenge, a new initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Public Service Center, will launch on January 7, 2011 as the Institute celebrates 150 years of service to the world. It is anticipated that more than 30 MIT-based teams will compete for a total of $150,000 in awards with up to $25,000 per team that enable winning teams to implement novel solutions to some of the world’s urgent challenges.

The MIT Global Challenge is an online platform that connects and awards teams of public service innovators led by full-time MIT students. The website will unite students, the worldwide MIT community, and their collaborators in identifying barriers to well being in communities around the world, encouraging teams to work together to develop and pilot innovative solutions to those problems.

Sally Susnowitz, Director of the MIT Public Service Center, has described the MIT community as, “a community of ingenious problem solvers who enjoy solving challenging problems.” The MIT Global Challenge, she says, “invites and supports the entire MIT community worldwide in applying their creativity and knowledge to help people in need throughout the world by working with them to create innovative and effective solutions to their problems.”

Continue reading ‘Press Release: MIT Global Challenge will Launch to Worldwide Community January 7, 2011′

And the winner is…

Congratulations to IDEAS 2010 team Sanergy for your winning entry into the IDEAS and Global Challenge video pitch contest! Judges voted Sanergy’s pitch the best for the clear connection between your team’s accomplishment and the resources offered through IDEAS and the Global Challenge. Most importantly, the video did a wonderful job emphasizing a multidisciplinary team drawn from across the MIT community and a deep connection to community and MIT resources on the ground, like FabLab. Here’s the vid:

Sanergy from Ani Vallabhaneni on Vimeo.

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Thanks so much to all of the teams that entered a video into the pitch contest – the range of projects represented is amazing, and I hope that through the MIT Public Service Center we’ll continue to find ways to support your work. View all of the entries here.

IDEAS and Global Challenge Generator 10/13

Want to learn from major international development organizations about opportunities for students to get involved?
Want funding for your innovative service project?
Want to recruit members or mentors for your project, or find a project team to join?

Then come get connected at the IDEAS Generator -its the perfect venue!

Please join the 2010-2011 IDEAS Competition and Global Challenge for our annual Fall Generator. We’ll have the opportunity to hear from a panel international development practitioners in the field about the “innovation as service” opportunities they see, along with students pitching project ideas and skills. This will be followed by a networking dinner around innovative solutions to community needs. Here are the details:

  • What: IDEAS Generator feat. International Organizations Panel + Networking Dinner
  • When: October 13, 2010 / Dinner Panel starts at 7:00pm, followed by pitches and networking
  • Where: Morss Hall (Blg 50) / Walker Memorial

The dinner will feature a panel of representatives from locally-based major international development agencies discussing what their organizations do, and what they don’t know how to do! In other words, this panel will focus on where there is space in the work of these organizations for innovation and entrepreneurship from MIT students. The following panelists have been confirmed:

Acción
Susana Barton, VP and Program Manager of Innovations and Integrated Solutions

UUSC
Gretchen Alther, Senior Associate, Rights in Humanitarian Crisis
Patricia Jones, Manager, Environmental Justice Program

Mercy Corps
Ruth Allen, Director, Community Mobilization, Governance, and Partnerships

World Education
Gill Garb, Director, World Education/JSI Bantwana Initiative and
Shirley Burchfield, VP, Africa Division

UNICEF
Christopher Fabian
Communication Specialist, Director’s Office, Technology for Development

Moderator: Joshua Schuler, Executive Director of the Lemelson-MIT Program , a non-profit organization based at MIT that, among many other things, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems.

*****************

The Generator will have two recruitment open mic sessions with a prize for the best presentation in each category! The networking dinner will also include other activities to help everyone get connected with the right team mates (you don’t have to give a pitch). Feel free to bring along small prototypes and presentation materials that help describe your project. Participants who do sign-up to pitch will each have 60 seconds to pitch their projects to the audience. Pitches must be professional, practiced, and to the point. RSVP by October 11 to globalchallenge-rsvp@mit.edu to sign-up for an open mic opportunity, with the following included in your email:

Pitch Category One: Recruit The IDEAS Dream Team

  • Team name:
  • Project summary (50 words max):
  • Recruiting needs:

Pitch Category Two: Get Yourself “Hired”

  • Your name:
  • Reason a team should hire you (50 words max):
  • Type(s) of projects sought:

Questions? Email Lars or Kate at globalchallenge [at] mit [dot] edu  or visit http://ideas.mit.edu for more info. See you there!

MIT Students, Alum Prepare for Learning Trip

My colleague Alison Hynd who manages public service fellowship and internship opportunities at MIT will be introducing MIT alumni to a project students are involved with in Ecuador this Summer. To help orient alumni to their upcoming trip to the Kallari cacao farmers and chocolate production facilities, the students put together this outstanding welcome video – check it out!

MITGC Introduction Slide Deck

Competitions, Social Innovation, and Human Well-being

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “The U.S. Lagging, not Leading, Social Entrepreneurship” caught my eye; the author writes, “Spend less time and money training entrepreneurs and funding contests domestically; invest more in social entrepreneurs globally.”

A few observations:

  • Lead with partnership. The author suggests that what’s needed are innovations “for the two-thirds world, coming from the two-thirds.” And while this is true, its probably not sufficient. What we’re finding is that partnerships – in which communities contribute their expertise, and MIT students contribute theirs – generate startling results. Scrape a little deeper into the history of companies like M-Pesa, Ushahidi, and even Grameen Phone and the role of robust international partnerships become clear.
  • Markets are not equal. Markets are very different in the U.S. and base of the pyramid. The consumer needs and the costs of entry are very different, as are the ongoing costs of doing business. We need better descriptions of the end-user benefits before we rule out domestic investment. The fact that the U.S. has created a Social Innovation Fund should signal some hope that we’re moving out of the era of big NGOs and into trimmer enterprise-led solutions to social dilemmas.
  • The U.S. is a terrific incubator. Domestic investments are, counterintuitively, investments in international social entrepreneurship. At MIT, 25% of team members in competitions like IDEAS and the Global Challenge are international. At the same time, partnerships should be considered an essential investment criteria for anyone considering funding for a social enterprise outside the U.S. in which American actors play a part.
  • Finally, there isn’t much in the article to suggest how the U.S. can move from being a laggard – if the proposition is true – to being a leader. Its not clear how investing in social entrepreneurs globally will advance the U.S. leadership position.

Its probably true that the United States, and much of the donor base that operates out of the U.S., has over-invested in well-intentioned – and ultimately fruitless – self-styled innovators who don’t have the problem-solving knack needed to tackle persistent problems abroad. But that’s not sufficient in my book to suggest we lag. Nor that entrepreneurs abroad are any more likely to achieve success – precisely because these are tough challenges that often require a rare confluence of skills, experiences and resources necessary to solve them.

At the end of the day, we need to create more opportunities for entrepreneurial thinkers to encounter each other – whether that’s through competition spaces, incubators, networking events like Design Indaba, Maker Faire AfricaSocial Capital Markets, Pop!Tech, and the Skoll World Forum to name just a few. The important concept is that these are how learning networks are fed, and from these networks innovation is sparked. We also need to seek out, recognize, and support nascent talent where it lies, and foster spaces where young problem-solvers like William Kamkwamba can encounter and build the personal networks that often build toward successful social enterprises.

Come get a sneak peak at some of the terrific ideas MIT students are coming up with as we prepare to launch the MIT Global Challenge, a competition platform to connect and reward innovators inside and outside the MIT community that are tackling barriers to well-being.

MIT Global Challenge “Printable” Available

mitgc_printableSpecial thanks to Resource Development and Alumni Association staff, especially Lauren Clark, for such fine work developing a 2-page overview of the MIT Global Challenge. We’ll be using the piece over the next several months to encourage alumni enthusiasm and support for the Global Challenge.

The printable includes an introduction to the Global Challenge, describes its origins with the success of the Public Service Center’s IDEAS Competition, and ways alumni can support the Global Challenge and the students who make it the incredible “invention as public service” competition it is today.

Download the printable here.

Tools to fund your project in the crowd

Crowdfunding is an excellent way to raise start-up cash the way most entrepreneurs do – from friends, fools and family. What is crowdfunding?  In a nutshell, raising sizable, useful sums of money in small amounts from many people. It’s an ancient tradition that has achieved some great results – its even gotten many Presidents elected.

What makes crowdfunding so relevant to today’s start-up environment is that the tools have never been so powerful. From simple donation buttons created through financial services sites like Paypal to robust “package” sites like Crowdrise that enable you to build a campaign, crowdfunding sites have exploded in the last decade. Many of them now have their own publicity machinery and are a great way for you to attract new eyes and hearts to your project. Here, we offer just a few to get you started.

Continue reading ‘Tools to fund your project in the crowd’

Can Information Improve Aid Effectiveness?

In 2009 Oxfam America published a brief on “smart development,” in which the authors advocate for increased transparency and predictability in US overseas assistance (ODA). In defining the challenge and the opportunity, Oxfam America identifies three reforms central to their strategy: provide increased access to information to recipient countries; build capacity and help countries lead their own development; and finally let countries lead by opening control.

In making the case for reform 1 (increasing access to information), Oxfam America gives three examples of the information entanglements that arise from massive aid programs that lack effective information sharing regimes:

For years, Afghans have heard about billions of dollars being promised by foreign  donors, yet they have no way to find out where that money is going. Even their  government does not know how one-third of all aid (some $5 billion) has been  spent since 2001.13 In Uganda, a mapping exercise in 2005 found twice as much  aid being spent than what the government was told.14 In Sierra Leone, the government knows little of the 265 different aid projects that donors are funding.15 And
in Malawi, there was a $119 million difference in what donors reported they were  providing to the government of Malawi and what donors reported to the OECD.16

“How” the authors ask, “can recipient governments use donor aid to plan in such circumstances?”

In reading the report, which is a sleek 40 pages, I realize there is a tremendous innovation opportunity here – which is to develop better tools, standards, and administrative reforms that will lead to the kind of information coherence across ODA actors necessary for effective development planning. In a sense, a GPRA for aid that harnesses the open data reforms of the last decade and the flexibility of information sharing tools available on the web.

A problem with enough technical challenges to be of interest to MIT management and programming talent?