Gordon State College Competes in Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, Team Wins Best Pitch, Selected Runner-Up Globally

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

Gordon State College students along with students from Salahaddin University in Erbil, Iraq won best pitch and placed runner-up in the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, an international business competition that took place mid-December of 2022. Students pitched their business idea at the Virtual Global Business Expo before a panel of experts for a chance at a grant reward to kick start their initiative.

“I was impressed with the creativity and teamwork of the students from Gordon State College and Salahaddin University. While addressing an important humanitarian issue, they learned not only about the process of developing a high-technology product for the global market, they also gained skills in working with people of other cultures. This was a valuable experience that these students will remember for a lifetime,” said GSC Lecturer of Engineering and Computer Science, Kelly Carter.

GSC students that were a part of the competitive challenge consisted of Sarah Brown, Tramaal Curry, Tabish Ghani, Ryan Harrell, Jackie Harris, Christina McKissick, Shelby Peters, Sarah Jones and Michael Sanders. Their team, Chiallengers, created a device focused on flooding and rain measurement called FReDD. Its mission was to help individuals in flood-prone areas who were in need of a warning system to receive prompt communication about potential flood conditions in order to save lives and protect infrastructure. Their research found that flooding ranked as the second highest weather-related death in the U.S. No instrument of any like to FReDD currently exists, especially in Kurdistan.

“Being a part of this project was an incredible experience not just because we created a device that has the potential to improve many individuals' lives, but also because of the bonds that developed between Gordon and Kurdish students,” Jones said. “Building relationships with and learning about the culture of the Kurdish students was my favorite part of this experience, and I know that I will carry what I learned from the cultural exchange with me for years to come.”

GSC faculty that have advised in the research and engineering of the FReDD prototype included Carter; Professor of Biology, Dr. Theresa Stanley; Dean of Business, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Dr. Barry Kicklighter; and Dean of the School of Nursing, Health and Natural Sciences, Dr. Victor H. Vilchiz.  Faculty that have led the group include Professor of Sociology, Dr. Christy Flatt as well as Chief of Staff and Director of Athletics, Dr. Tonya Y. Moore.  

GSC was one of the 13 binational teams composed of 235 students from Jordan, Iraq and the U.S. that have competed to investigate challenges in their local communities related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals of affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production as well as climate action. Participants have collaborated virtually through the design thinking process within their teams and created innovative business solutions. Concepts were featured in the Virtual Global Business Fair where a panel of judges scored each submission and determined who would compete in the Virtual Global Business Expo. The Chiallengers were selected as one of the top five finalists.

The global challenge is a program that improves global citizenship, strengthens problem-solving skills and develops enduring connections, while enhancing students’ job skills through online collaboration.