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MECathon organizers Brady Bailey (left) and Max Evans.

Students tackle sustainable development goals in pitch-style competition

March 12, 2019 | Business

Turning a profit just isn’t enough for students in the MacEwan Entrepreneurship Club (MEC). To have a successful company, you need to be socially responsible too. So club vice-presidents and Bachelor of Commerce students Brady Bailey and Max Evans created MECathon and challenged students from MacEwan University, NAIT, Norquest and the University of Alberta to come up with a plan to tackle one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The pitch-style competition invited students from all disciplines to compete — not just students familiar with case studies and business competitions.

“An entrepreneur is not necessarily a business person,” says Brady. “It can be anybody from sciences to humanities to health. It could be a design student that wants to create their own business. We tried to cater to all those different interdisciplinary skills.”

In fact it was an interdisciplinary student team of Amelia Altmiks, Bachelor of Arts student, and Blake Dickson, Bachelor of Commerce student, that won the competition on February 1. As a volunteer beekeeper for MacEwan’s hive on Building 5, Amelia pitched the idea to make beehive education and technology affordable and accessible to budding beekeepers in Alberta.

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Blake Dickson and Amelia Altmiks (right) shake hands with Ray Muzyka.

“We presented the idea that we would provide beehives to lower-income communities that they could co-run,” says Amelia, who is also a certified beekeeper. The hives would make the community more food sustainable, beautiful the surrounding areas and be a teaching tool. “We would approach the large monoculture farming industry to sponsor the community hives and in turn, we would give the sponsors a hive as well so they too can benefit from pollination.”

The team won over the MECathon judges — which included BioWare founder and 2017 Allard Chair in Business Ray Muzyka.

Brady and Max hope the club will be able to make MECathon an annual event and that future members of MEC can encourage more student engagement. Both say the benefits of participating in a competition like this outweigh the anxieties of public speaking. You could meet a mentor, strengthen your critical thinking and presentation skills, get feedback from industry experts, and connect with students from other areas of the university.

“My proudest moment was watching my friend Amelia — who had never competed or presented in something like this before and needed me to connect her with someone on the business side of things — kill it and do such a good job that she won first place,” says Max Evans, Bachelor of Commerce student. “More students across disciplines should work together.”

 

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