Strengthen African Environment
Taking on new challenges was the goal of the fourth IDEEA annual forum 2022 in Monterrey. Within 6 months, almost 200 students from universities worldwide formed interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative solutions. The goal was to improve electric mobility, farming or agriculture logistics in Africa in Rwanda or Kenya.
''Understanding problems they do not face in their surroundings and finding suitable solutions for them is a completely new challenge for the students."
“Conceptualize a systematic future mobility or farming solution for rural areas in Africa.“
The African continent faces several problems on the way to sustainably securing agricultural productivity and employment. The socioeconomic system of rural Africa is based on village structures. Growing food for self-consumption is a common and traditional approach for most people living in the remote areas of these countries. Under the given conditions, with a shortage of both agricultural products and the technological means to produce them, the challenges cannot be solved with conventional approaches.The availability of material and technological resources is becoming increasingly difficult, making a mobility turnaround seem impossible without new approaches. One way to solve the challenge is to systematize circular value creation, incorporating regionally available raw and recyclable materials.
Based on these background information the task for all teams was to do a case study on a selected mobility, agricultural or rural problem in Africa. This required first selecting a country (Rwanda/Kenya) and analyzing the social, economic, technological and rural mobility or agricultural context there. This analysis was then used to identify local user problems with existing transportation and/or agriculture. Through this, solutions were to be developed that would increase the effectiveness and efficiency of agriculture or transportation (people and/or goods). As a goal, the solution should then be brought into a hub or community context to develop new business models that create value and jobs for residents.
The Design Thinking Process provides a guideline on how the problem can be viewed. There are five elemental steps – Research, Definition, Ideation, Making, and Testing. The goal is to focus on the customer and his human needs and finding a solution that satisfies those.
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The process of designing a new, innovative concept is completely new for the students since most of the regular classes do not focus on project work, are not combining knowledge of different courses and do not teach competences that become important in worklife, like discussing ideas, having meetings and working with a deadline. Still, all those capabilities are helpful when starting a job for both, the students and the companies.
If you, as a company, are interested in joining a community, which sculptures tomorrows design and engineering education, on a global level and are willing to support this process make sure to follow the IDEEA page on LinkedIn. Become part in building a platform for academia, students and industry to meet, exchange ideas, foster collaboration and make new friendships!
The results of the groups impressed the jury. Each team identified different problems and thus found other solutions. In addition to a presentation, many teams also designed and built an initial prototype or an illustrative model. Through the presentation, it became clear that the students put a lot of thought into the process of finding solutions, really wanted to understand the problems of the users and develop products adapted to the users’ circumstances. In addition, everyone learned what it means to work online in a collaborative way with other people and across different time zones. The resulting challenges were mastered. Overall, it was a very successful project. A big thank you to everyone who helped make this years project a success!
The planning for next year has already begun and it is exciting to see what it will bring! Interested in participating? More information will be published on this side soon.