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MacChangers launches summer program to help support COVID-19 challenges in HamiltonMay 22, 2020

Change-a-Thon will help build a more resilient and sustainable community.

More than 140 McMaster students will participate in a new hack-a-thon for change next week created by MacChangers, a program for students to find innovative solutions to challenges facing the Hamilton community.

The MacChangers Change-a-Thon, a free five-day virtual program happening from June 22-26, brings teams of students from all faculties and levels of study to brainstorm, share insights and create innovative solutions to four real-world challenges posed by COVID-19. More than 350 students applied to the program, currently in its pilot year with potential to expand next year.

“We quickly pivoted to build a summer program that provides students with a meaningful experience,” says Cam Churchill, director of the program and an assistant professor in civil engineering. 

“Students now, more than ever, want to connect with their community and offer support. The MacChangers: Change-a-Thon will do just that.” 

The team's community relations coordinators, Abbie Little and Jay Carter, have been consulting with community members to hear about the challenges they are facing.

“Through our community conversations, we’ve identified four key areas our community members need support with,” says Little. “Digital technology, food, mobility, and supporting local businesses are the themes students will work on over the five-day program.” 

Students will partner with representatives from organizations including the Hamilton Farmers Market, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), Downtown Hamilton BIA and City of Hamilton's sustainable transportation group.

All students will form teams, research their challenge area and propose a solution during the first four days of the Change-a-thon. On the fifth and final day, they will pitch their ideas via video to faculty members, prospective McMaster University students, and the broader City of Hamilton community.

Upon completion, students will receive a digital credential and will have gained valuable problem-solving, decision-making and teamwork skills. 

 “This program is unique as it brings together students from all faculties to learn from each other and collaborate in new ways,” says Ishwar Puri, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “I look forward to seeing how students will contribute positively to the Hamilton community using innovative and creative thinking.” 

MacChangers is run jointly by the Faculty of Engineering and the Office of Community Engagement  and is open to students from all faculties. Applications to the program closed on June 8, 2020.