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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Innovation in Aggieland for global food security

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Alfredo Costilla Reyes, electrical and computer engineering graduate student and current AGFS Ambassador, participated in the Thought for Food Global Summit competition last year and was the leader of the winning team with their product BitGrange.

Supported by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Aggies for Global Food Security (AGFS) is holding its internal ongoing competition for the second year in a row.
Modeled after the prestigious Thought for Food Global Summit (TFF Global Summit), the Grand Innovation Challenge is a team-based competition meant to prepare students for higher impacting matters. AGFS is an initiative designed to engage students in an array of opportunities related to the promotion of global food security and the development of innovative solutions to the world’s grand challenges.
According to Lindsay Sansom, International Competition and Fellowship coordinator, students have a number of learning opportunities placing them in direct contact with a global network.
“The idea behind it is to promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration between students not only within our college but broadly across campus and to encourage students to start participating in more high impact opportunities,” Sansom said.
Sansom is in charge of recruiting and organizing members in order to help students form a potential team. In order to form an integrative group, Sansom uses a survey that collects data from members such as skill sets, majors and short personality tests.
“We really try to build the most interdisciplinary, well-rounded teams that we can because through this process we found that the teams that are most competitive are the ones that are going to be the most well rounded,” Sansom said. “Essentially we try to mesh students up who have similar interests but diverse skill sets.”
AGFS Ambassador and member Edeoba Edobor said the passion team members bring to the competition is where the true potential lies.
“It’s about what you’re passionate about,” Edobor said. “We just need people that have that same likemind, we come together to brainstorm and agree on ideas that could solve complex problems.”
The teams are expected to create a 90 second video to pitch their idea of a solution to a complex problem through diverse and unique perspectives and submit it by Dec.1 for a chance at a cash prize.
“What you get out of that is so much more than just the money — it’s the people, the contact, the invigorating experience,” Sansom said.
Alfredo Costilla Reyes, electrical and computer engineering graduate student and current AGFS Ambassador, had the opportunity to attend last year’s TFF Global Summit and was the leader of the winning team, BitGrange.
Reyes said the most valuable learning experience he gained from The Grand Challenge Innovation is the importance of teamwork.
“It’s not possible right now to do something on your own,” Reyes said. “You have to work with more people, you have to find the skills you don’t have in somebody else and be smart enough and have these management skills to bring the best out of people working towards a single goal.”
According to Sansom, there are approximately 15 potential teams formed to compete at the A&M level of competition.
From there, on Dec. 9 the top five teams will be selected to attend a workshop during the spring semester, intended to prepare them for an in person pitch in front of a panel of high level judges.
The main event is on Feb. 2 in which teams are given five minutes to present their pitch in front of a variety of judges. The winning team is then granted the chance to attend the Thought for Food Global Summit, the world’s largest open competition for university students who are building the future of food and agriculture.
The purpose of the Grand Innovation Challenge serves beyond interdisciplinary research on campus.
“What I have learned through the competitions as a part of Aggies for Global Food Security is that it’s no longer about yourself,” Reyes said. “Great things happen not when you work for yourself but when you work for others.”

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