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Winning the sySTEMIC Challenge on Food Insecurity at Rutgers University

 Cristy Sarmiento, Pricelda Martinez, Samuel Vasquez, Stephanie Martinez, Fransheska Rodriguez 


Food insecurity is a pressing global concern, affecting countless individuals. This has prompted a search for solutions. The sySTEMIC Challenge held on February 9th at Rutgers University-Newark brought together nine teams from community colleges and universities, each bringing their innovative approach to addressing this ongoing concern.


Our team from Passaic County Community College comprised of STEM B2B (Bridges to Baccalaureate) Club members -Cristy Sarmiento, Samuel Vasquez, Pricelda Martinez,

Stephanie Martinez and Fransheska Rodriguez. Tasked with presenting a viable solution to the food insecurity problem, our team dedicated over a month to brainstorming. We sought recourse to microorganisms as a strategy for bolstering food security. We adopted the age-old fermentation methods, which rely on the assistance of microorganisms as well as a newer fermentation technology known as precision fermentation.  One of the benefits of this newer approach is the ability to produce copious quantities of proteins, fats, vitamins, flavoring agents and more with genetically engineered microbes. Overall, the major advantages of this approach are its sustainability and reduced water consumption. With initiatives like this, communities can look forward to a brighter future.


Reflecting on the overall experience, as a group of novices who have never participated in such a competition our team was nervous, full of stage frights prior to presenting for the competition, however, this did not hinder our confidence. Without a doubt, once the winners were announced we were astonished when nominated for first place, earning recognition from the judges for our innovative proposal. All participants agreed to the remarkable strength of collective and collaborative teamwork. 


Furthermore, we extend our gratitude to Dr. Kala Mayur, our advisor for this competition, for her tremendous support. She played a pivotal role in guiding us through our preparation process and fostering our confidence. We are sincerely thankful to her for providing us with this invaluable opportunity and enriching learning experience.

 

In closing, the invaluable lesson we've gleaned from this experience is the transformative power of determination, perseverance, and unity. As we reflect on our journey, we recognize the crucial role played by qualities such as leadership, organization, collaboration, adaptability, and motivation in achieving our goals. May this enlightening and impactful journey inspire you to embrace these qualities and take bold strides towards becoming community leaders

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