Creating impact with solutions to contemporary challenges at the 18th Convergence Conference
(Dr Emiel Eijdenberg, Senior Lecturer in Business at James Cook University, with the first-prize winners of the Multi-Disciplinary Project at the 18th Convergence Conference)
On 24 January 2020, a packed lecture theatre in the Singapore campus of James Cook University was comprised of a sea of sharply-dressed men and women gripped with anticipation. Undergraduates from various disciplines were ready to participate in the 18th Convergence Conference, where they would showcase their multi-disciplinary project to solve complex, real-world industry issues.
The Convergence series of conferences is an event that occurs near the end of each term, enabling soon-to-be graduates to collaborate with prolific partners on industry-related projects – a culmination of the knowledge and skills gained throughout their degree – and to share their findings with fellow students, staff and invited guests.
In his opening address, Dr Emiel Eijdenberg, Senior Lecturer in Business at James Cook University in Singapore, highlighted that the theme of the conference was “Strategies, Solutions, and Synergies”.
He added, “I have seen many creative and interesting ideas from students – creating solutions,
and products and services; preparing themselves for the labour market, and by doing so, tapping into and addressing contemporary issues and challenges of today’s world, especially in Singapore.”
In addition, Professor Abhishek Bhati, Campus Dean and Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement at James Cook University in Singapore, shared that it is important for students to conduct impactful research as it “gives you good experience of how to analyse a problem and look at what the possible solutions are, and then select one of the options that you might want to implement,” which in turn will make a difference to the communities and societies around us.
Professor Bhati also said, “We want to develop our graduates into global citizens, to be aware of the context and the environment they are going to operate in – whether [it is] your own business or working for any other organisation – whichever way you want to contribute to the community, your community.”
The 18th Convergence Conference was comprised of three segments:
- BEAM “Bring your own business idea” Competition organised by the Business Entrepreneurship and Mentorship Club – where students conducted elevator pitches on innovative business ideas.
- Poster Presentation (Multi-Disciplinary Project) – where groups of students shared their ideas for innovative products or services, with information condensed into an informational poster as their aid.
- Research Presentation (Applied Research Project) – where groups of students carried out PowerPoint presentations to showcase their research ideas on a variety of real-world issues.
(The third-prize winners of the Multi-Disciplinary Project at the 18th Convergence Conference)
A broad range of compelling ideas surfaced over the course of the conference – including a service to refill bottles to mitigate single-use plastics; as well as a pair of reversible, wrinkle-free trousers that have stain-resistant, water-resistant and sun-blocking properties. Interesting research ideas also included an analysis of artificial intelligence and its impact on the tourism industry, as well as the impact of K-pop on the Asian fashion industry.
As the conference drew to a close, awards were given to the best ideas, as determined by a panel of esteemed judges. Awards were also given out in recognition of the most eloquent speakers, the most compelling presentation, the most creative presentation and the most innovative presentation.
Ultimately, Convergence allows students to step outside of the classroom experience and connect with the industry by creating solutions to contemporary challenges. As they graduate, this will equip them with key attributes to find success in life.
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