UB's 'Hacking our World' brings sustainability focus to campus

Ryan McPherson

Ryan McPherson, UB Chief Sustainability Officer at 2018 Erie Hack

BY DAN MINER republished from Buffalo Business First

Release date: January 3, 2019

“We want to address sustainability through creativity and entrepreneurship and to build real-world skills while we’re at it”
Ryan McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer
UB Sustainability

The University at Buffalo is placing an emphasis on giving students real-world academic experience to complement their classroom studies.

That effort will take an environmental bent this year as the university hosts three initiatives dedicated to environmental sustainability.

UB participated in each of the three programs – the World’s Challenge Challenge, Erie Hack and Transforming Our Tomorrow: A New Clean Energy Vision. But this is the first time they all will be offered in the same year.

UB calls the sustainability focus “Hacking Our World” for the upcoming academic year. Initiatives include:

• World’s Challenge Challenge – UB will host the local chapter of the competition April 2, with three-person student teams developing a solution to global sustainability issues. The winning group at UB will take home $3,000 and advance to the finals at Western University in June, where the gold medal team will win $30,000. **Application deadlines extended to February 8th, 2019!

• Erie Hack, launched by the Cleveland Water Alliance in 2017, will return in 2019. The competition seeks to generate ideas to protect the Great Lakes. The local part of the competition kicks off Feb. 19 and will culminate in an Innovation Summit in Cleveland on June 20, with more than $100,000 in prizes at stake. A team of UB students from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences won second place in the first Erie Hack competition, while a Nichols School senior won the high school division.

• UB Sustainability will host Transforming Our Tomorrow, which involves college students from New York state pitching their ideas on how to create a more sustainable world through clean energy. The first place team receives $3,000, second place $2,000 and third place $1,000, with a bonus prize of $200 available for a team that considers the social impacts of clean energy. **Application deadlines extended to February 8th, 2019!

Derek Nichols, UB Sustainability engagement coordinator, said the initiatives create the opportunity for different disciplines across UB’s large footprint to collaborate in meaningful ways.

Ryan McPherson, the university’s chief sustainability officer, said robust participation is anticipated for each of the events.

“We want to address sustainability through creativity and entrepreneurship and to build real-world skills while we’re at it,” he said. “What we are seeing across higher ed is that students are looking for experiential opportunities that have a foundation of purpose.”

global goals

Sustainable Development Goals:

4. Quality education: Promoting inclusive, quality education

17. Partnerships for the goals: Revitalizing global partnerships for a sustainable future and strengthen the implementation of these goals