Throughout its history, the Yucatan Initiative has built numerous bridges of collaboration and friendship between Texas A&M University and several institutions in Yucatan. Universidad Politécnica de Yucatán (UPY) is an outstanding example of these fruitful relationships, which has enriched students, faculty and administrators on both sides of the border.

This week, UPY was one of the 40 universities participating in Invent for the Planet, a 48-hour intensive design competition hosted by Texas A&M University. Starting on February 14, students from around the world formed multidisciplinary teams to tackle some of the most pressing global challenges humanity faces, in a process that included coming up with a prototype, a business plan and a pitch to be assessed by a panel of industry experts.

After the first round is completed, judges will choose the Final Five participants from among the first-place winners at each of the 40 institutions, who will then travel to Texas A&M University for a final round in July.

In four teams, 25 UPY students worked hard to develop solutions for two major issues, which they chose from a list provided by Texas A&M University: Fighting Australian bushfires and preventing pedestrian injuries and deaths.

Photo by Universidad Politécnica de Yucatán

With mentorship coordinated by UPY’s own Dr. Guillermo Cordourier and Dr. Juan Vázquez, advisors Nora Carrillo, Alejandra Cabrera, Gonzalo Peraza, Víctor Cámara, Didier Gamboa, Julio Molina, Mayra Trejo and UPY President Dr. Gildardo Sánchez worked with each team on grounding their ideas into concrete prototypes, putting together a video to properly convey their ideas and developing a successful pitch.

After 48 hours of work, the four teams made their final presentations before a panel of judges comprised by Diego Maury from HackSureste, Romeo de Coss from the Merida Unit of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) and David Puga from the Yucatan State Government’s Yucatan Institute of Entrepreneurs (IYEM).

Photo by Victor Cámara, UPY

The first-place winners were team “Rushframe” (Carlos Ortegón, Hans Pech, César Romero, Pamela Sandoval, Ángel Escalante and Bryan Ruiz), who came up with an app to prevent injuries to pedestrians distracted by their phones, with team “Wildfire” (Oswaldo Chan, Jack Robles, Jonathan Rojas, Benjamín Barona, Mayté Chi and Alan Lopez) earning second place for their efforts to combat Australian bushfires.