Fernanda Sauca, a fourth year student of the bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Management at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), alongside four students from the University of Trento, recently received a grant to begin working on the second phase of the solution to the ECIU University “From farm to fork” challenge: designing an application to help local farmers in the Trento region deliver their products.
Sauca's experience in the ECIU University challenges is not new, since she had already participated in the “Prevention of Textile Waste” challenge, organised by the UAB. Soon, Fernanda will become an ambassador for the UAB students enrolled in the EICU University.
The idea was born while working on the ECIU challenge “From farm to fork” where we had to come up with a solution in order to relaunch sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture, while shortening the distance between the local producers and the consumers in the city. In this way, an app would be a network or a platform in order to connect producers and consumers as directly as possible.
The team will start looking for IT students who would like to join us in order to actually start developing the app. We think that this process will be essential as the original idea will be perfected and also refined.
A typical day consisted of meetings where we had to discuss what we had to do next. For example, redefining the challenge, coming up with different possible solutions that we later had to present to our supervisors, brainstorming our ideas, and also debating on the pros and cons of those ideas. I think we organized ourselves very well because the more meetings we had, the more we could see the strengths of each team member and in that way, we could organize ourselves and better divide the tasks.
The best part of the challenge was the brainstorming meetings, because you could learn so much from different people, from different fields of studies and experiences. And it really made you feel like a part of a group where you could address real life issues and debate them as a team.
It was also a great experience and actually, it is what led me to participate in the “From farm to fork” challenge, since I kept in touch with our team member from the University of Trento. We worked on the policy approach of the challenge. Our proposal consisted of implementing the European Union law in public procurement, specifically the criteria for textile products and services, which is a voluntary instrument for public authorities with the goal of including environmental criteria into public tenders. So I think this experience was a great opportunity to get introduced to the ECIU challenges and see how they work.
What I take away from these challenges is the chance of having been able to work with many interesting people and learn from them. And also the fact that students can have a platform where they can address real and pressing issues and discuss them through a very practical approach.
I think what really motivated me to sign up for the challenges was the fact that we were going to address and discuss and offer a solution that possibly could be implemented from a practical perspective. So it was really satisfying to take what we learned in class and apply it using a practical approach. And also the fact that we were going to do this in a very international environment with students from different universities or colleges.
It made the whole experience even more profitable. Overall, it was what I valued the most because we could learn so much from each other. And at the same time, no one was left in the background because every team member could offer a valuable idea to the whole challenge, to the discussion.
I’ve learned more about issues that I knew about, but never actually thought about them in-depth. I’ve acquired skills in the area of teamwork and actually started to network and personally, it was very satisfying to finally put some theoretical knowledge into practice. It was a very validating and encouraging experience.
The most valuable thing I took away from these challenges was the fact that I got to know people that otherwise I probably wouldn't have known and worked with from different fields of study. That made the whole experience more profitable since you could look at one topic from many other perspectives. And keeping in touch with these team members and for example, now with the Fresh App and continue what was a two-month challenge. We will continue to work together and yes, maybe even become good friends later.
I would tell them to take the leap and go for it. Although life as a student can sometimes be overwhelming, I think these activities really help you in different areas like problem-solving and brainstorming ideas, working in teams, pitching your ideas that later, you can extrapolate to your academic and professional life.