Hey guys, I hope everyone is doing well!!
I am Leena and I am a second-year Psychology student at the University of Southampton! This summer I participated in a challenge that I would have never expected myself to take part in The Great Global Challenge from HEX, which involved 160 students from 9 universities across the globe.
Normally, I would never step out of my comfort zone and apply for a programme like this, but this year I just decided to go for it since I didn’t have anything to lose. After getting accepted, I couldn’t believe it and soon the challenge began! So, what exactly was it? The challenge was to work in a cross-disciplinary team to identify and prototype a tech-based solution, with the theme this year being to help ‘protect human rights in a post-truth world’ and create a 3-minute pitch video for the judges to watch.
My team and I decided to focus on the right to consume information and online news that is trustworthy and reliable since there has been a prevalent issue of ‘Fake News’ in the media. To combat this problem, we ideated a solution targeting journalists and online consumers of media to ensure the content that is published is verified for its reliability, as well as providing readers with a tool to see which articles are highly scored for their credibility.
In order to do this, HEX provided us with beneficial workshops and talks from experts in the tech industry, along with many successful entrepreneurs. These useful classes taught us everything we needed to know about human-centered design, prototyping, user interface, and many more to start our journey completing a business model and assisted us in creating the prototypes for the final pitch. Additionally, mentors were always available to us to help in any way! Whether this is giving feedback on our team’s work or providing personal advice for establishing a career, they certainly made the experience worthwhile. So not only was I able to create a finished product in a short span of 6 days, but I gained so much knowledge that I may not have had the chance to know otherwise. For example, it gave me an insight into the tech and business world, where I was able to learn crucial skills such as prototyping, market researching, creating a business model, and the list goes on.
One aspect that was quite challenging was working in an international team where everyone was in a different time zone. Due to covid, the challenge was completed online via zoom, instead of being held in Singapore or San Diego (sadly for us). This meant that my team and I had to communicate entirely through zoom whilst working on our solution! With 2 of my members being from Australia and one from the U.S, you can imagine the difficulties of choosing a time to meet. However, after getting to know my team and communicating which times were best for everyone (memorising the time differences to know when everyone is awake and asleep), we were able to get into a routine of meeting at least 3 times a day. This allowed me to meet with the Australians as soon as I woke up because they would sleep shortly after, and in the afternoon with my American teammate when he woke up. Finally, we were all awake to meet right before I went to bed as well.
As much as it sounds exhaustive, it was truly the best learning experience to understand how to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary team and that communication is key to accomplishing anything! I am extremely grateful I got the chance to participate in this challenge and I encourage everyone to apply if they can, believe me, it is more than worth it!