Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the third edition of the College of Human Ecology's HumEcathon was held remotely on May 29, 2020. The virtual hackathon had a very timely challenge topic of "Reactivating College Campuses for In-Person Teaching."
Organized by the Dean's Undergraduate Advisory Council, the event is known for connecting students from across the College's disciplines to create interdisciplinary solutions to address contemporary societal issues.
Event organizers promoted the competition with a nod to the CHE's multidisciplinary and collaborative nature: "With a focus on the interaction of humans with their biological, economic, social, and physical environments, there is no college better equipped to brainstorm how college campuses can reactivate in-person teaching than the College of Human Ecology."
Eleven teams, consisting of 45 total students, competed in the Virtual HumEcathon and pitched their plan for colleges to best reopen with in-person learning. Teams chose from six subtopics to focus their proposals on, including; Virtual Learning, Teaching, The Academic Calendar, Student Connection during Social Distancing, Mental Health, and Housing and Dining. Each team delivered a "lightning round" presentation as well as a five-minute recorded slideshow. Dean Rachel Dunifon, Associate Dean Margaret Frey, and Dean's Fellow Marianella Casasola served as faculty judges. The judge's panel selected one winning team and awarded two teams honorable mentions. Student peers gave one People's Choice award.
“It was so inspiring to have students from all different majors come together to use their various backgrounds to brainstorm solutions. Since there are so many areas of the issue that needed to be addressed in order to ensure a safe reopening, we really saw such a variety of extremely creative ideas that demonstrated the student perspectives on the matters” said event organizer and Dean's Undergraduate Advisory Council member, Isabella Harnick (PAM) ‘21. She added, “While many students were trying to address the issue of maintaining student connection during COVID-19, we actually were already doing that ourselves, as we all came together as one HumEc community to come up with ideas for an issue so close to all of our hearts.”
Judges Choice Award Winner:
The Judge's Choice winning team, "Student Mental Health During COVID-19," included Neri Yun (HD)'21, Eniola Oladipo (HBHS) '21, Hannah Bidigare-Curtis (M.S. Environmental Psychology) '21, and Rebecca Woodie (FSAD) '22. Judges were impressed by the team's ability to bridge their plan’s focus on academics and student mental health. Their solution leveraged Cornell's existing mental health resources and included a detailed plan for delivering physical and virtual care packages for quarantined students. Addressing community connections, they also designed branded solidarity wristbands to be worn in support of social distancing and those impacted by the Pandemic.
The judge's first honorable mention team, “Back To School,” included Rose Ippolito (GPHS) '20, Geneva Lee (PAM) '20, and Elizabeth Kane (GPHS) '20. The team's proposal included innovative ways to use physical space and thoughtful ways to use online polls to reduce speaking during class. The judges appreciated their public health research-based motivation and dedication to evaluation.
The second honorable mention team, "Teaching In The Time Of Corona,” included Vidushi Tripathi (HCP) '21, Anekhaa Goyal (A&S, College Scholar) '21, Viraj Govani (A&S, Bio Sci) '23, Shreyas Prasad (CALS) '23, and Sharan Prasad (HBHS) '23. Their solution introduced a block course schedule where faculty rotated classrooms spaces instead of students. Judges enjoyed their ideas for healthcare kits and a contract tracing app.
Student’s Choice Award Winner:
Student's Choice Award team "When Can I CU Again" included Rushil Shah (HBHS) '22, Tushar Khan (Engineering, CS) '22, and Amrit Hingorani (Bio Sci and NS) '20. The team's plan suggested increasing project-based teaching, creating more small group interactions with Teaching Assistants, and a biweekly check-in program with professors. The group also proposed a variety of original virtual orientation and extracurricular activities.