Local innovation for global problems

From staff reports

Five finalist teams will compete to solve the problem of plastic waste in Manaus, Brazil at the Fifth annual Global Case Competition on Friday.

The competition is sponsored by WSU’s International Programs (IP) and will be held in Todd Hall 216 at 3:30 p.m. An award ceremony and catered reception will be held at 5 p.m.

Christine Oakley, director of IP Global Learning, said the problem in Manaus offered a unique opportunity for teamwork.

“We selected that area because there is a lot of visible plastic waste, a lot of litter,” Oakley said. “But, it may not be the most important concern the people of Manaus have, so it was an interesting problem for the students to resolve.”

The winning team will be able to travel to Manaus to investigate the feasibility of their solution. Their trip is sponsored by WSU alumnus Orlin Reinbold.

“We’ve only been offering travel for the past two years because we have a very generous donor,” Oakley said. “He really values international experiences. It was his desire for the students to experience the country that they actually worked on.”

Each team had two weeks to form an innovative approach to the case. Their final solutions were reviewed by a panel of seven judges.

“The case was designed so that students were given some direction, but the direction that they took to solve the case or provide solutions was open to their interdisciplinary makeup of their team and what research they were able to find,” Oakley said.

Of the 120 original participants, only 30 students advanced to the finals.

The finalists consist of 21 undergraduate students and nine graduate students that attend the Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities and the Global Campus.

Students had the option of registering individually or in teams. Registration occurs before the case is released in order to ensure fairness.

Registered students who do not have a team are arranged by the Global Case Competition planning committee to form groups based on specific criteria.

“Usually the students don’t know one another,” Oakley said. “They have to hit the ground running.”

Each team must represent at least two different WSU campuses, two different majors, have at least two undergraduate and two graduate students, and include both international and domestic students.

Reporting by Alysen Boston