University Leaders and the Community Gather for Solve @ MIT’s Challenge Design Workshop

Past Tides
April 5, 2018 By Applied Innovation

A number of distinguished guests gathered at the Cove @ UCI for the Solve at MIT’s Challenge Design Workshop. Solve is an initiative of the President’s Office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on solving the world’s most pressing challenges through open innovation and partnership. This interactive workshop identified critical issues related to Solve’s four pillars: learning, health, sustainability and economic prosperity. This year’s Solve topics from each of these pillars were coastal communities, empowering educators, frontlines of healthcare and the future of work.

Nancy Guerra, dean of UCI’s School of Social Ecology, opened the workshop by thanking guests for their participation to understand how UCI can partner with the community. Guerra explained that the School of Social Ecology has partnered with Solve for approximately a year, with the hope of finding a practical model to alleviate poverty and increase access to healthcare in and around Orange County.

Following Guerra’s opening, Richard Matthew, UCI professor of international and environmental politics, gave the audience further context to clarify the motivations for the workshop and its connection to the School of Social Ecology. Matthew stated one of the main challenges facing the School of Social Ecology, along with UCI’s Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, is figuring out how to utilize what UCI does well and find creative ways to link those skills to Orange County’s specific needs.

Next, Alexander Dale, a senior officer of sustainability at Solve, began the program for the workshop and encouraged the audience to take part in Solve’s efforts. According to Dale, the audience is a key part of shaping topics that the Solve team tackles during the year. Dale guided the audience through a brainstorming session, identified difficult problems the world is facing and explored possible solutions to those obstacles.

The workshop also required attendees to work collaboratively at designated tables that contained core Solve topics where challenging questions were posed to each group. Questions included:

  • What outcomes do you want to see in Orange County around your topic?
  • What barriers prevent those outcomes from occurring?
  • What dimensions might we focus on from your outcomes and barriers?
  • What two dimensions are critically important to solve?

The workshop ended with an open discussion about each table’s most important questions regarding their topic. Every question drafted by the guests, even if they were not top choices, will be read by the Solve team and play a role in choosing the final global challenges for the following year. To learn more about MIT’s Solve initiative or to explore more details about attending its annual flagship Solve event in May, visit:


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