This academic year has been one of many new challenges for me as I have begun my journey to become an engineer. I don’t come from a traditional engineering route which means I feel that my experience with finding a solution to a problem and making it happen is limited. So, when I heard about the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take the skills I have been learning at NMITE and put them into practice for myself.
Idea generation was one of the more challenging aspects of the whole competition. I have never considered myself particularly creative so designing a new solution to any problem I wanted to was quite daunting. To help break down the process, I looked at each of the four categories for the competition (Diversity, Education, Sustainability, and Social Isolation) and considered what the existing challenges were with each of these are. It was at this point that I realised despite my desire to leave the education world behind and work in sustainability, my experience working in the education sector as a primary teacher has left me in a strong position to personally understand the challenges that face teachers in the classroom every day. Once I focused my efforts on the challenges in education, I found it much easier to isolate an area I wanted to help support. One of the biggest issues facing education is keeping people engaged with learning at school but also throughout their lives and future careers. This seems to be because students (for a variety of reasons) lose faith in their school’s ability to support them. As someone who knows first-hand how difficult it is to know how each student is doing throughout the day, helping teachers identify students that need help is what I wanted to focus on. Unfortunately, at this stage of the competition exactly how my idea functions is a closely guarded secret so I cannot reveal more, but I believe it could be a great solution to help teachers and students understand each other a little better.
Once I focused my efforts on the challenges in education, I found it much easier to isolate an area I wanted to help support. One of the biggest issues facing education is keeping people engaged with learning at school but also throughout their lives and future careers.
Shortly after the first submission deadline, I received an email from Samsung to inform me I had been shortlisted. I had made it to the top twenty-five! After this came a month of workshops, drop-in sessions, and mentor meetings to support me through to the next submission deadline for the final. During this phase of the competition, I needed to use the advice and guidance of experts who work for Samsung and Digital Catapult to help me progress my thinking and create a firmer base upon which to build my idea. I designed a questionnaire to help me understand how other teachers felt about monitoring the emotional wellbeing of their students and to gauge how well received my idea would be in the classroom. I learned a lot from this survey which supported the decisions I made going forward. I also had the opportunity to speak to young people who are currently students in a high school about how they would engage with my idea and any improvements I could make which was very insightful. I am incredibly grateful to them for being willing to speak to me and speak so truthfully about their experiences.
For my most recent submission in April, I needed to create a presentation that covered key aspects previously selected by the judges to evaluate my idea fairly against the other twenty-four ideas. I also created a video submission in which I created storyboards with different characters so that anyone watching would gain a better understanding about how my idea would work. This was fun as I had the opportunity to be a little more creative with what I wanted to show the judges. I also needed to design a logo for my idea. This was difficult at first, but Samsung provided a workshop on how to create a logo that suits your product and once I applied those principles, I was able to produce something I am really happy with.
This now brings me up to present day and unfortunately I have not progressed into the final stage of the competition; whilst I feel a little disappointed not to have progressed to the final round, I do feel incredibly proud of having made it so far in my first foray into a competition of this scale and stature and I very much look forward taking all that I have learned into future competitions and my ongoing studies here at NMITE.