Master's student Shashank Bhattarai, Infrastructure and Engineering. One of the mentors of The Junior Academy.
Solving the vaccine distribution in Indonesia
A global team of students and their mentor from Chalmers won The Junior Academy Challenge for their holistic concept for Covid-19 vaccine distribution in Indonesia, worlds largest archipelagic nation.
The Junior Academy, gathers science-interested students
and mentors from all over the world to build teams and design
innovative solutions to society’s greatest challenges. One of the
challenges, all based on UN: s SDG´s, of spring 2021 was “Global Vaccine
Distribution”. The winning team was led by mentor Shashank Bhattarai, a master's student from Chalmers. His team presented a solution
to improve and accelerate vaccine distribution across Indonesia, the
world's largest archipelagic nation, with the world’s fourth largest
population and a low vaccine acceptance rate. The winning concept was
named Karikó, in honor of Prof. Dr. Katalin Karikó, Hungarian biochemist
and pioneer in mRNA technology used within vaccines for covid-10.
"In short, it was the hard work, positive attitude, teamwork and desire
to help the community that helped the team Karikó come up with the
winning solution", says Shashank Bhattarai.
concept addresses the identified key priorities: production, allocation,
supply chain and transportation, tracking and acceptance & access,
and focuses on cold chain logistics, drone delivery, spatial data
science, vaccine storage units, Hash graphs & IOT and online
platforms. Although the concept is designed for conditions in Indonesia
it does have a worldwide applicability. Shashank Bhattarai reflects on
how elements from education was utilized in the challenge process.
"The master’s programme Infrastructure and environmental engineering at Chalmers is an interdisciplinary program following problem
based learning (PBL) where we work in various teams and find solutions
skimming through wide arrays of information. This process of working as a
team helped me during my mentoring journey with setting up weekly
milestones, effective communication, scheduling and followup."
teams participating in the challenge is made up of students in ages
13-17, and Team Karikó had team members from the USA, the UK and
Argentina. One of the key elements in the challenge is the ability to
cooperate despite geographical distances and cross nation borders.
"My mentorship journey has been a profound learning experience and it is
definitely a proud moment to be mentoring the team who came up with the
winning solution. On a personal level, the process has helped me push
my boundaries as this was the first time i worked as a mentor in an
international platform. The process has definitely reinforced my
deftness in research, communication, team work and skilled listening
which i believe is an important tool for academic, professional as well
as personal development", says Shashank Bhattarai.
Text: Catharina Björk
year, The New York Academy of Sciences selects 1,000 students in ages
13-17 to become part of The Junior Academy. The Swedish Partner of the
NYAS is IVA, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, who
administrates participation and engage mentors representing Sweden, and
also is behind the particular challenge of Global Vaccine Distribution.
Students work together online on challenges in self-selected,
international teams of up to 6 members. Each team is paired with a STEM
professional who serves as a mentor for the duration of the 10-week
challenge period. The project-based challenges are focused on the United
Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Academy presents challenges
twice per year. Challenges run from September through December and again
from January through May.