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EnGINeering Our Future 2016 – GIN Conference at SCIS Hongqiao Campus

April, 2016
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On 4 March, 250 young masterminds arrived at the Shanghai Community International School, Hongqiao Campus. Their destination was the 2016 “EnGINineering Our Future” Global Issues Network Conference. The purpose of this year’s GIN conference was to connect Middle Schoolers from all over Asia, to pass on knowledge through workshops and activities where students could socialize and share information, so that they can create a platform to work together towards engineering a future we are all proud of.

scis-gin-conference-fiona-sherwoodThis year’s participants had been eagerly working on projects in their own schools, all targeting different global issues. “Peer-to-Peer” workshops were held on the first day, where students presented their projects to each other. Notes and pictures were taken, a tremendous amount of questions were asked, and most importantly, students educated each other about problems happening today, and shared their solutions to these problems.

Peggy Liu, Bunny Yan, Maciej Dudek, and Rob Han were invited to be the keynote speakers. They are all inspirational leaders in today’s society, all working towards the same goal: a sustainable world. They all talked about what they are doing for people and the environment, and challenged both the students and GIN teachers to go beyond the obvious, to be innovative, and to help each other create a better world for our future.

To teach students how they can actually use their newly gained skills in the real world, the conference highlighted the weekend with five hours of hands-on “enGINeering” workshops, in which students up-cycled everyday items that are usually thrown away, giving them a new use and purpose. Other students worked on hanging aquaponic gardens, bamboo construction, designing small-scale energy efficient homes, and designing creative ‘viral’ water awareness campaigns. Through these workshops, students experienced and understood the innovative design process that includes identifying a problem, brainstorming solutions, and then finally building a testing and prototype. Such process is used by inventors and innovators, startups and kick-starters around the world.

As part of the conference’s zero waste theme, green accommodation was offered. Students and their chaperones slept in classrooms on campus, ate, showered, and networked in one location, reducing transportation emissions to and from the event. This way, they were emitting less waste and had a smaller impact on the environment.

Also, fun activities such as a Swap Shop, Tee4Tee, Sustainability Fair, and the energized Social Networking Events were offered over the weekend. Throughout the social networking event, participants were asked to share their story as to why they became interested and passionate about global issues. It is their ‘story’ that students realized was one of their most powerful tools to successfully motivate people into action.

In the Swap Shop students exchanged two of their own belongings for somebody else’s, thereby giving something you probably would never use again a new purpose. In the T4T everyone donated a t-shirt of their own when receiving a GIN 2016 T-shirt.

Putting together such a huge conference was a lot of work and took seven months of planning, but in the end it’s all worth it. Having 300 people together from different parts of the world with the same passion for global issues connected in one spot over a weekend was one of the greatest moments. Such connections can be extended and expanded through phones and other devices. Bound together by Wechat, iMessage, and email, people can work together, do projects together, get help from each other, and most importantly can teach each other how to engineer our future together.

“Thank you very much for all the effort SCIS put into creating such an enjoyable experience for everyone at this year’s GIN Conference. DIS students and I are greatly looking forward to putting much of our learning into practice in our community,” commented Scott Jolly, teacher from Daegu International School.


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