Northwestern team wins first annual U7+ Student Challenge
Project MED promotes medical careers among underserved high schoolers
A Northwestern University team won the first annual U7+ Alliance of World Universities Student Challenge, a competition held in France last June where students from around the world pitched projects that would address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals using technology and innovation.
The winning team represented Project MED (Medicine, Exposure, Development), a student-led organization that matches Northwestern students as mentors with underserved high school students in Chicago and Evanston. The project focuses on providing new forms of access to career pathways in health care. As part of the U7+ Student Challenge, they have worked to further develop the MEDLaunch database to broaden accessibility of care opportunities available to local high school students.
“In our eyes, the MEDLaunch database has a lot of potential in the way that it can provide transparency and exposure to healthcare-related opportunities for high school students from historically underrepresented groups,” said Irene Quan, a member of Project MED studying economics at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
Quan said the team’s goal right now is to distribute MEDLaunch to students who need these resources the most and to cultivate supportive relationships with local schools, including finding ways to partner with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
In the past year, Project MED has collaborated with the Office of Community Education Partnerships at Northwestern and worked with over 50 students across three high schools to establish workshops, launch a mentorship model, and curate a database of healthcare opportunities.
The Project MED team members who were part of the winning U7+ Student Challenge group include:
- Nikhil Sriram, Neuroscience and Global Health Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2023
- Irene Quan, Economics and Science in Human Culture, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2023
- Rishi Jain, Neuroscience and Global Health Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2023
- Emily Lam, Biology and Science in Human Culture, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2023
The competition was hosted by École Polytechnique (France), in partnership with Northwestern University, Université d’Ottawa (Canada) and Ashesi University (Ghana). The teams presented ideas on topics including illegal mining practices, sustainable food storage and food security. The judges included Pilar Acosta, Professor of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, École Polytechnique; William Annoh, Assistant Director, Adei Studio Professor for Research Excellence, Ashesi University; David Bruce, Assistant Professor of Engineering, University of Ottawa; Thierry Rayna, Professor of Innovation Management, Ecole Polytechnique; and Annelise Riles, Executive Director of the Northwestern Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and Associate Provost for Global Affairs, Northwestern University.