An-Najah Concludes the Sustainable Social Entrepreneurship Virtual Exchange
On Saturday, April 30th An Najah National University’s Office of International Development and External Affairs, in collaboration with the Engineering Faculty’s Mechatronics Engineering and Computer Science Departments and NGate Business Innovation and Technology Hub, concluded a virtual exchange collaboration with the Institut supérieur des études technologiques de Béja (ISET Beja) in Tunisia and Pennsylvania State Lehigh Valley’s Experiential Digital Global Engagement program in the U.S.
The project included approximately 30 students working in virtual, international teams to identify a problem they could solve or help mitigate that also addressed one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To do this, they completed a needs assessment and market analysis. This was followed by the design thinking process for viable solutions to the problem they selected, then prototyping and testing of the solution in the market, and the creation of a business model canvas (BMC). Students worked together both asynchronously and synchronously on different virtual platforms including whatsapp, zoom, Google Workspace, and Google Classrooms. Each team received feedback and follow-up from one or more of the program instructors.
The project design and implementation was led by Dr. Mahmoud Assad, Chair of the Mechatronics and Mechanical Engineering Department and Mrs. Alia Gilbrecht, project manager and instructor at the Office of International Development and External Affairs and with support by Dr. Mona Dmeidi, head of NGate Innovation Hub, in collaboration with Dr. Islem Megdiche and Dr. Nadia Cheikhrouhou of ISET Beja University in Tunisia and Ms. Tracey Carbonetto of Pennsylvania State University.
During the concluding event, students presented their ‘final pitches’ to three judges from each of the participating countries with extensive experience in innovation and entrepreneurship including Ms. Nadiah Sabaneh, founder and CEO of FINOMENA, Mr. Maher Chakroun, cofounder of Optimalogistics, and Mr. Ken Ludwig, lecturer of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Michigan. The teams were expected to briefly summarize their initiatives, share their BMC and answer questions from the judges. The initiatives tackled several different local and international social challenges to sustainable consumption and production, waste management and reduction, health and wellbeing, reducing inequalities and quality education.
The first place team, ‘Keep it Green’ developed an eco-friendly collection bin with an application that allows for users to track their progress and get paid for disposal of unwanted plastic. The team members included Noor Braik of An Najah University as well as Tovey Field, Fouad Awwad, and Aemen Ali from Pennsylvania State University. The second highest ranking team created the ‘Healthy Food Store’ initiative aimed at providing nutritional food options in Palestine through subscription food plans and prepared meals. Mohammad Jaafar, Waseem Ghazal, Haneen Eweedah, Yazan Shtayeh of An Najah National University, and Ryan Adamson of Pennsylvania State University.
This collaboration is expected to continue into the Fall 2022 academic semester with all of the participating partners.
Virtual Exchange is the practice of connecting young people from diverse places using everyday technology for collaborative learning and interaction through sustained and facilitated engagement. It is a learning tool that An-Najah has been utilizing for many years as a means to develop students' 21st Century Skills including intercultural communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills, helping prepare them to compete in the global economy.