The alliance encourages new, innovative teaching methods such as Challenge Based Learning, in which students from various disciplines cooperate with each other and with social partners on real problems in the business community or in society. By contributing solutions to these problems, students are making an impact while still studying and acquire skills that can stand them in good stead later: think of cooperation, creativity, design thinking and entrepreneurship.

From 2021 onwards, the alliance will be organising a variety of challenges for third-year Bachelor’s students as well as all Master’s students at TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht.

COVID Challenge

The Covid-19 pandemic has imposed a new reality in the everyday lives of people around the world. The municipality of Utrecht is looking for solutions for its citizens. The aim is to deal with the restrictions due to the pandemic, AND to minimise the health, social and economic burden of the people of Utrecht. Certain target groups are more at risk of both the effects of the disease and the effects of the measures to avoid infection. In the Covid Challenge, student teams create innovative non-repressive solutions, in order to limit the negative impacts of Covid-19 in the daily lives of citizens. The proposed solutions can combine medical, technical, political, behavioural, economical and sustainability disciplines. The challenge starts 19 April and ends 11 June 2021.

Food for Health and Safety Challenge
The Ministry of Defence is looking for a new food concept for military forces in training and on missions. Students are challenged to develop a new, sustainable concept that is to the satisfaction of the forces while also meeting all of the ministry’s requirements. During a number of education days, students of the four institutions cooperate in different locations to work on this problem, which combines logistics, sustainability and health. If the corona situation allows, the Food for Health and Safety Challenge has started with a kick-off on 12 February 2021 and lasts until 25 juni 2021.

Inter-University Sustainability Challenge
The world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Since 2007, more than half of the world’s population has been living in cities, and that share is projected to rise to 60 percent by 2030. Cities have a major impact on sustainability. They offer unique settings that are highly challenging and at the same time offer great opportunities for change. This raises the question what the sustainable city of the future will look like and how to get there. Students will choose between three topics: (1) Urban Agriculture, (2) Air Quality, or (3) Energy Transition. In interdisciplinary teams, students will collaborate, each with their own expertise to work towards out-of-the-box, scientifically solutions for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The inter-university sustainability challenges course has started on 8th February 2021.

Bio-med-tech Interdisciplinary Team Training (BITT)
This challenge starts out with a patient’s current urgent problem. Think for instance of the risks posed by adhesion caused by multiple cardiac surgeries or an eating disorder following tumour treatment. Three small groups of students of the different institutions representing various disciplines work on possible solutions for these patients. The course runs from 24 February until 17 June 2021.


Sabine Uijl