Student Shashank Bhattarai
​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.    

The winning 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."     

The 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

Each 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.  

Page manager Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021.