My Substantial Experiences Participating in the “Wicked Problem Innovation Hack-a-thon”

        I was recently granted the privilege to participate in the 2nd Annual Robert Morris University “Hack-a-thon”. This year’s “Wicked Problem Innovation Hack-a-thon” focused on an issue close to home: Pittsburgh’s Lead Crisis. Interdisciplinary teams of three to four students were tasked with developing an innovative solution to mitigate the societal effects of water contamination in the city. Teams were given a basic introduction to the problem, then were left alone to complete their background research and develop an original solution. Our problem was a multi-dimensional “wicked” problem: our solution needed to include both short and long-term components and alleviate the problem’s effects on Pittsburgh residents from all walks of life. When the week was up, the groups presented their solutions to a panel of judges made up of RMU faculty.

        I very much appreciated this opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary team with other undergraduates. Being given only a week to research the situation and prepare a response required us to communicate efficiently and cooperate well together. This was actually the second year I participated in RMU’s “Hack-a-thon”; my favorite part of the competition was, once again, being a part of a team whose members recognized their talents and contributed in different ways according to their varied areas of expertise. The RMU “Hack-a-thon” is a joy to participate in and has given me experience I would not have otherwise obtained as an undergraduate. I look forward to future “Wicked Problem Innovation Hack-a-thon’s” and encourage other RMU students to participate in the future as we continue to solve “wicked” problems.


– Cheri McChesney


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