End of Semester Reflection Fall 2020

Whether delving into sustainable food systems, researching methods of converting waste to energy, or examining the crossroads of 3-D printing and biodegradable plastics, the Hunt Institute is constantly buzzing with solutions to bolster the resilience of the world around us. Even in this challenge-filled semester, several projects in the Institute made great strides toward this goal.

Just to highlight a few: thanks to Janta and its installation of solar panels at the Tintinto Primary and Secondary school in The Gambia, remote learning was made possible amidst the pandemic; the Resilient Shelter team completed a market analysis of low-cost seismic protection methods for urban buildings in developing countries; and the Kijiji Project team developed a proposal for sustainable fencing for a community center in Kasisa, Tanzania. In addition, the communications team continued to showcase these projects and team members with consistency and excellence.

Despite all of these resilient solutions, though, I believe what primarily shaped this semester was the resilience of the Hunt Institute team and affiliates. We did not ignore all that was happening in the world around us, but rather we pushed through together.

Many students used their wide range of skills to contribute in a variety of ways. One such student, Undergraduate Research Analyst Scott Zuo, noted that in addition to his contributions to his primary project, “helping with other tasks and projects was a great opportunity for me to grow.” Whether in the office or remotely, the team was able to gather for our town-hall style Monday Meetings, which always began with the opportunity to connect with one another via breakout rooms. We even culminated the semester with an adapted version of our annual Thanksgiving celebration, beginning with a discussion of what team members were thankful for and ending with an entertaining trivia game that lifted everyone’s spirits.

As we hit our final deadlines and approach a much-needed winter break, it is time to reflect on this past semester and look forward to the next. I feel incredibly grateful for the hard-working, connected team we have at the Institute and all the work that was accomplished, and after witnessing the way we adapted to a hybrid system of virtual and in-person, I feel confident that this team can tackle whatever challenges come our way in the future.

Sam Borton is an economics major, the Research Team Lead with Varsha, and a contributor to the Hunt Institute Digest.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

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