UC Chile Student Projects Reach the Final Round of the Rise U21 Competition
Mutual learning, a link between generations, sustainability, and social action are some of the axes that move ‘Devolviendo la Mano’ and ‘Ingeniería para Chile’. These two student initiatives are part of the finalists of the RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) contest of Universitas 21, an international network of universities dedicated to research.
Through intergenerational support and humanitarian engineering, these two UC Chile student projects seek to triumph in the contest, after a process of months of hard work.
Along with obtaining funding to grow their initiatives, winning the RISE contest -from Universitas 21- will allow student projects to access an acceleration program in terms of scale and impact of initiatives, supported by a network of experts, resources, and global visibility.
Returning the Hand
Returning the Hand (or ‘Devolviendo la mano’ – DLM in Spanish) is the project created by Javiera Gómez, Bárbara Riquelme, Pía López, Ángela Cárdenas, Sofía Contreras and Rosa Francisca Rojas. Together with a team of volunteers, this intergenerational social initiative seeks to generate links between elder people, young people, and professionals.
‘Volunteering is focused on the accompaniment and mutual learning between the elderly and the young, through telephone calls and weekly workshops of cognitive stimulation, emotional skills or social reflection. We have held festivals, poetry workshops, and various games, all using the zoom platform ‘, explains Javiera Gómez, a student of Civil Engineering in Construction.
Gómez commented that they realized how badly older people were performing as a result of the pandemic. ‘We launched our initiative in August 2020 and started looking for volunteers. In the beginning, as in any project, we were very few people, almost only those who founded DLM, but over time this team grew to what it is today with about 20 elderly people and more than 30 volunteers throughout Chile and other countries such as Guatemala and Mexico ‘.
Engineering for Chile
Engineering for Chile (or ‘Ingeniería para Chile’ in Spanish) is dedicated to bringing schools and humanitarian engineering closer to the country's problems through intervention within key courses of the curriculum to address the social problems that affect Chile from a professional perspective.
Likewise, they seek contact with foundations and NGO’s to offer volunteer opportunities in the form of undergraduate research, course projects, or thesis work in underserved neighborhoods requiring support.
The initiative - which has about 40 members - emerged at the end of 2017 as a project of the UC Chile Engineering Alumni Center to link academia with the socio-environmental challenges of Chile. They focus on six work areas and their goal is ‘to generate a cultural change in the school, where each student who has been able to graduate goes out into the workplace with sufficient awareness of the positive impact that engineering tools can have’, says Vicente Jander, former coordinator of the volunteer area and co-founder.
The final decision of the jury for the Rise U21 contest will be announced in mid-May. If successful, ‘Devolviendo la Mano’ and ‘Ingeniería para Chile’ would be part of the global network of social innovator students and that is what they are working for.