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Local students up for the Challenge Nova Scotia

Faculty advisor Anne McDonah gives a few instructions to students participating in Challenge Nova Scotia on Friday just before they received the problem they were tasked with solving.
Faculty advisor Anne McDonah gives a few instructions to students participating in Challenge Nova Scotia on Friday just before they received the problem they were tasked with solving.

On Friday, students at eight Nova Scotia Community College campuses tackled a real world problem facing the province, working together to come up with solutions in only 12 hours.

At the Pictou campus in Stellarton, 43 students registered to participate in Challenge Nova Scotia, and they were placed in teams of four that included students from other NSCC campuses, working via web-based collaboration platforms.

At the Pictou campus in Stellarton, 43 students registered to participate in Challenge Nova Scotia, and they were placed in teams of four that included students from other NSCC campuses, working via web-based collaboration platforms.

By video, NSCC president Don Bureaux and Premier Stephen McNeil announced the problem to the students at 10 a.m. By 10 p.m., they were expected to be finished making a 90 second video outlining their solution.

The question was: “Create a solution that can assist in reversing the trend of out-migration and improve the quality of life for Nova Scotia youth. Ensure your solution also increases work opportunities for those currently unemployed or underemployed.”

Bureaux and McNeil advised students to use the ONE Nova Scotia report as a resource. Authored by Ray Ivany, the 10-year collaborative action plan addresses the province’s economic and demographic issues.

“This is a really relevant question for you. It’s your opportunity to create a solution to help empower, help you to be able to stay in Nova Scotia if you want to,” faculty advisor Anne McDonah told the students.

This is the third year she’s been a faculty advisor for an event of this kind. The OneNS Hackathon took place over a 24-hour period, while the second event, Challenge Nova Scotia, was planned for 24 hours, but was cut short to 12 hours due to weather conditions.

Jim Bate, academic chair for the school of business, said Challenge Nova Scotia involves

answering a question that helps the province, using the people who are going to be impacted by the answer. “The people we want to keep in the province, if they can design their own solution as to why they should stay, hopefully they’ll buy into it.”

More than 200 students across the province signed up to participate, growing since the first event in which 40 students took part. Each iteration of the event has encouraged students to develop a solution to a different social problem affecting Nova Scotia.

“It’s to get students really thinking about issues,” said McDonah, a teacher in the school of business.

Max Sinnis of Digihub Marketing in Westville was one of several mentors on hand to assist the students. The NSCC graduate participated in a similar challenge – the Vanier College Case Challenge – while he was a student, moving on to compete nationally.

“I feel that type of experience might help with their presentations or any questions they might have,” he said. “I know NSCC provides a lot of great opportunities for students, and I just want to be part of helping them out.”

One difference between the challenge he participated in, and this one, is that this is a real issue, where his involved a made-up business case. “It’ll be very interesting to see what they all come up with. It’s a big issue in Nova Scotia.”

Other mentors included former student Cecely Gilby, last year’s winners Kelsey Levy and Jeanine Hawes, NSCC graduate Graham MacDonald, entrepreneur Jeff Davis of Stashbelt and Pictou East MLA Tim Houston.

The winners will be announced on Monday, with first place taking $2,000, second place receiving $1,500 and third place winning $1,000.

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