What do you get when you mix one wicked problem, five finalist teams, and $30,000 in cash prizes? An amazing Wege Prize Finalist Weekend! This year, I had the opportunity to be apart of this inspiring weekend by watching the finalist teams present and receive awards.
Being unfamiliar with Wege Prize, I had to start at the beginning. I learned that Wege Prize is a competition that tests design thinking within collaborative groups of undergraduate college students from all over the world by attempting to solve a ‘wicked problem’. This year, teams came up with solutions to wicked problems such as hospital waste management, slum sanitation, and powering a rural manufacturing facility all through the constraint of creating a circular economy. It seems impossible to tackle a problem this large solo, but that’s why this competition is based on collaborative teamwork, a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds working towards a common goal. This year, teams were comprised of students who study design, engineering, science, business, and many other fields of study. It seemed the more diverse the team was, the farther the group progressed in the competition. This just goes to show how effective working collaboratively can be.
The finalist teams’ projects were phenomenal. They were thought provoking and creative. From backpacks to waste management systems, all of the solutions presented had the potential of creating a circular economy. Just listening to the students present their ideas sparked a desire within me to want to solve wicked problems.
However, even more than watching students present and compete, I enjoyed getting to know all of the students participating. Students came from all over the world; from states in the U.S. like Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas, to international countries such as the Netherlands and Kenya. In addition, finalist teams included students from China, Costa Rica, and Nigeria. Getting fresh and new perspectives from peer undergraduate students was insightful and inspiring. When all of the participants were together, it was evident how much higher functioning a group can be when there is diversity in race, gender, age, experience, and field of study.
Being able to attend this year’s Wege Prize finalist competition has provoked me to look deeper into participating in the 2017 Wege Prize competition, form a team, and compete for the grand prize. Looking past the cash prize, I am most excited to get to know other creative individuals with a great deal of motivation. Expanding my network, not only with professional adults, but also peer students from around the world, is a huge advantage of participating in this competition. I cannot wait to see where this year’s Wege Prize will lead me.
If you are just as interested in learning more about Wege Prize as I was, visit Wege Prize to get more information about the foundation, the challenge, team forming, and the prizes.