Project managers project positive community changeMay 08, 2012
Hands-on experience in project management is now delivered with community impact through social engagement and sustainability at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. And in one case it has meant the advent of recycling robots.
In Beedie Professor Blaize Reich’s project management class, undergraduate students were asked to take on a project of any shape or size to develop the project management skills taught in the class. After being split into groups, the students were given free reign to choose the focus of their project.
One of the groups, Project Positive Charge, opted to use their project to address sustainability issues on campus. Students Alex Tsao, Frank Lo, Henry Lam, Robin Orford and Rebecca Wang set up ten robot-themed recycling boxes around Burnaby campus for old batteries and cell phones and have since seen their project recognised in several competitions.
“We were looking for a way to encourage recycling among students on campus and came up with the idea of a robot theme for the boxes to grab people’s attention,” explains Tsao. “Although SFU had a long-established paper and plastic recycling program, we were conscious that no electronic waste recycling program existed on campus. We set a target of 220lbs of batteries originally, but ultimately surpassed that, collecting over 250lbs of batteries and 61 cell phones.”
The success of Project Positive Charge has seen the group receive the award for Outstanding Initiative by a Student Group at the inaugural SFU Sustainability Network Awards. In addition, the project’s success also saw the team finish in second place at the 2012 Wideman Prize Competition.
SustainableSFU consulted with the group on the project from the start and were so impressed by the results that they have agreed to maintain the recycling robot depots on campus permanently.
Meanwhile, for student Linda Bui, the project represented an opportunity to combine her studies with fundraising for a cause she was already well acquainted with. Bui used the first meeting with her new team mates, Victoria On, Josh Lam, and Jeevan Binning, to make them aware of Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam (HSCV), a charity which Bui had previous experience with.
“Having worked with HSCV for two years now, first as a volunteer and then as a board director, I thought this class project would be an ideal way to raise funds and awareness about their cause,” explains Bui. “My previous work with them has enabled a shelter to be built in Hanoi to house eight underprivileged girls. Our group decided to focus on a project to raise funds which would go towards expanding this shelter to house up to 15 girls.”
The group partnered with Vietnamese 3 Regions, a local non-profit, non political organization that empowers and provides learning and leadership opportunities to youths in the community to organize a charity night to raise funds for HSCV.
The evening featured a silent auction, a raffle, a date auction and live entertainment, with all proceeds going to HSCV. The group used social media to market the event, held at BLVD 22 in downtown Vancouver, sourced local businesses to donate food and prizes for the occasion, and sold almost 200 tickets at $15 each. In total, over $5,000 was raised for the charity.
Bui intends to travel to Hanoi this summer to see how the money is being used. “I have visited Vietnam five times in the past with HSCV and it is always a great experience. This time I intend to teach crafts skills to the girls at the shelter, enabling them to produce quality goods they can then sell to tourists. In this way, we are teaching them skills which allow for a sustainable future beyond the shelter.”