SOM student team wins international competitionTweet
When computers and other gadgets are thrown out, it can hurt the environment in more ways than one. These items get added to long-lasting piles of clutter in landfills, and people who don’t have access to technology are further deprived of opportunities to build their skill sets.
In March, a team of Binghamton University students became big winners when they devised a solution for this lose-lose situation. Dali Lu, Oyuka Baatarkhuyag, Michael Genito, Ying Zhu and Joyce Wenjing Xu – all students in the School of Management – won first prize in this year’s Ernst & Young, LLP (E&Y) “Your World, Your Vision” competition, which included universities from across the U.S. and Canada.
The competition asks students to submit original and creative proposals to make a positive impact on their communities in one of three areas: education, entrepreneurship or the environment — the same areas of focus for E&Y’s corporate responsibility efforts.
As first place-winners, the team will receive a $10,000 grant from E&Y to implement its proposal and create a student-run organization that will collect unwanted computers, refurbish them and return them back to the community through volunteer-led computer literacy classes. The team members welcome volunteers to join them in teaching classes in the local community, help with e-waste collection drives or repair computers.
“We are in awe of the support and positive input we have been given throughout the entire process,” Lu says. “From brainstorming ideas and meeting with University faculty and staff, to actually completing our written proposal and presentation, we have been encouraged and motivated by the warm feedback we have received around this important issue we face in today’s digitally driven world.”
The new organization will request to be chartered through the Student Association during the fall semester, and will work with the on-campus Center for Civic Engagement which has a Digital Divide program, addressing the socioeconomic disparities between technology haves and have-nots.
“One of our biggest challenges will be project continuity from year to year, especially because some of the team members will graduate and leave Binghamton,” Lu says. “This is why we’ve partnered with the Center for Civic Engagement. It is firmly established on campus and will remain here while students come and go.”
Part of the funding will be used to further develop computer literacy lesson curricula for the community classes as well as purchase parts for computer refurbishment and defray costs of the e-waste drives. In September, the group will recruit members and promote its activities through paid advertisements and social media. By the end of the fall semester, the club expects to organize and execute its first collection drive of e-waste in the Binghamton area.
“E&Y’s Your World, Your Vision Competition is a great example of experiential learning opportunities provided by our corporate partners. I’m very proud of the students’ accomplishment. Their proposal is outstanding and will have a very positive impact on the campus and local communities,” said Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management.