Taking part in a first-of-its-kind multiversity initiative at Education City (EC), liberal arts students at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) leveraged their unique global perspectives and problem solving skills to help address a sustainability challenge at the Product X: Innovating for Future Economies Boot Camp organized by a team of faculty from across EC.
During three week-end sessions, 19 undergraduate and graduate students representing 13 different fields of study from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, GU-Q, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMU-Q), and VCUarts Qatar worked in entrepreneurial teams tasked with sustainably redesigning a disposable food container.
Held on the campuses of GU-Q, TAMU-Q, and VCUarts Qatar, the bootcamp served as an incubator for a business idea built on the principles of a circular economy which designs out waste and pollution at every step of a product life cycle.
Four GU-Q students participated, including Rinad Al-Khalifa (SFS’25) and Ulukbek Kaziyev (SFS’25) who earned course credit for completing additional university requirements along with their final project. Noting his diverse team of students from QF partner schools, Ulukbek said:
“The team consisted of several majors: business administration, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and international economics. I was excited by the ideas that were actively shared and exchanged in our discussions.”
The PRODUCT X initiative also served as a networking platform for students, faculty, community, and industry stakeholders as a way to cultivate Qatar’s innovation capacity, explains sociologist Dr. Christine Schiwietz, GU-Q Assistant Dean for Curricular and Academic Advising, and a member of the core Product X Development Team. “In an interconnected and globalized economy, we want students to know that most problems are far more complex than they first appear, and they can have multiple solutions,” she said.
GU-Q alumni in graduate programs at EC also participated in the project, honing their collaborative problem solving and leadership skills by working to address every aspect of a sustainable food container that minimizes waste, from product design, to sourcing materials, relevant laws and policy issues, business aspects, waste management, and consumer behavior.
“The holistic scope of the project cross-disciplines and educational stages highlights the incredible potential of the QF multiversity vision,” says Dr. Schiwietz, “in bringing together students and scholars from diverse academic disciplines who can begin grappling with a complex problem from their unique strengths and perspectives.”
The Project X teams presented their final projects at a celebratory lunch held at EC’s Chef’s Garden, and earned a certificate of participation. Plans are in place for a new Product X challenge for Spring 2023. The original idea for Product X stemmed from a sustainability consumer product challenge at TAMU-Q.
The Product X multiversity development team also included Dr. Dhabia Al-Mohannadi, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Dr. Mahmoun Al-Rawashdeh, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Dr. Konstantinos Kakosimos, Dean’s Fellow for Multiversity and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, all at TAMU-Q, as well as Dr. Mohamed Evren Tok, Dean’s fellow for Multiversity and Assistant Dean of Innovation and Community Engagement and Associate Professor of Islam and Global Affairs at HBKU, Peter Martin, Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at VCUarts Qatar, Dr. Joselia Neves, Associate Dean for Social Engagement and Access and Professor at HBKU, and Dr. Savanid (Nui) Vatanasakdakul, Associate Teaching Professor in Information Systems at CMU-Q. GU-Q faculty mentors Dr. Dennis McCornac, Dr. Rory Miller, and Dr. Ramon Cobo were also among a team of faculty and industry expert mentors who worked to support the teams in their projects.
Community and Industry Mentors:
- Nayaz Syed – Seashore Group
- Nihal M. Mohamed – Earthna
- Oaussim M. Alami – Green Island initiative
- Ahmed Al Saygh – Bedaya