Archive for Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant

A View from the Class: Diego Folly de Andrade MPA ’19

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and faculty. In this issue, we feature recent graduate SIPA Diego Folly de Andrade MPA ’19. A second-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) candidate, Diego is concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy with a specialization in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis. He is a fellow in SIPA’s International Fellows Program, a Lemann Foundation SIPA Fellow, and a World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program Fellow.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?
I worked in the Brazilian Government as a Labor Inspector at the Ministry of Labor and as an International Advisor to the Government Secretary in the Brazilian President’s Office. As a Labor Inspector, I actively participated in the formulation and regulation of the National Occupational and Safety Health (OSH) Policy and helped to improve the living and working conditions of people living in Rio’s poorest communities. I also participated in the Mobile Group for Slave Eradication, helping to release workers from degrading work conditions.

As an Advisor to the Government Secretary, I articulated public policies to promote social development and to facilitate the social dialogue between civil society and Government, and participated in the development of an institutional framework to implement Sustainable Development Goals across Brazil.

Why did you choose SIPA?
SIPA is highly rated with outstanding professors and public practitioners. Moreover, its programs attract diverse and international students with successful career experiences.

What have been some of your standout experiences at SIPA?
I participated in a Capstone workshop with Free The Slaves, researching and developing a monitoring and evaluation tool to measure the socio-economic status of participants in programs combating child domestic servitude in Haiti. I also did a summer internship at Eurasia Group Lab, assessing Brazilian political risk during the presidential elections. I competed in SIPA’s Public Policy Dean’s Challenge Grant student competition. My team, Citizap, is developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) – based virtual assistant that connects people with public agencies in their place of residence. The goal is to improve the quality of public services provided, strengthening digital governance and public engagement in city management.

What are your plans now that you graduated from SIPA?
I plan to return to Brazil and to help design public policies that focus on promoting decent work, sustainable development, and social inclusion.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am grateful to Columbia and SIPA for this amazing experience. I am also thankful for my fellow Seeples for making me feel integrated into the community, for the unique experiences and views, and for the bond of solidarity built during this time.

I look to education as a means of transformation and overcoming obstacles. Throughout my life, the generosity of people who I did not know well helped make my education possible. Thanks to the support and hard work of my parents and to the scholarships and fellowships I have received, I been able to achieve my dreams of studying at highly ranked universities. I hope to do the same for others and dream of ensuring fundamental rights for all Brazilian citizens, so that in the future, all children have the chance to follow their dreams and achieve what they once thought was impossible.

Congratulations to the winners of 2016 Public Policy Challenge Grant

SIPA seeks proposals from students for innovative projects that use digital technology and data to improve the global urban environment.

Affordable and clean energy access—opportunities for refugees to provide language services—reliable access to the Internet—these are the goals of the winners of this year’s Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant competition, announced by SIPA at the 2016 #StartupColumbia Festival on April 29.

The annual competition invites students to propose innovative projects and prototypes that use technology and/or data to solve important urban problems. The winning teams were allocated a total of $65,000 in prize money to support the implementation of their projects.

The first-place team, Azimuth Solar, aims to make clean energy affordable for low income off-grid consumers in West Africa. Its members are Nthabiseng Mosia MIA ’16, Eric Silverman MIA ’16, and Alexandre Tourre MPA ’16.

The second-place team, NaTakallam, is developing an online platform that pairs students learning Arabic with displaced Syrians who provide Arabic practice opportunities. Members are Aline Sara MIA ’14, Reza Rahnema MIA ’14, Niko Efstathiou MIA ’17, Aimee Wenyue Chen MIA ’16, and Sherif Kamal MPA ’15.

The third-place team, CIGONN, aims to develop an Internet device sharing system for students in developing countries. Members are Olivier Bennaim MPA ’16 and Columbia Engineering student Alexandre Zeitoun.

The current sequence—the third since the program was inaugurated in Spring 2014—began in September 2015, when 10 student teams were chosen as semifinalists from more than 30 applications. While participating groups must include at least one SIPA student, they are encouraged to blend students from different disciplines and schools at Columbia University.

Want to participate in your own Public Policy Challenge Grant? Confirm your seat in the Master of International Affairs program today!

Each semi-finalist team received seed funding and a wealth of programmatic support to aid in the development of their ideas. They met with a panel of industry advisors, participated in a series of boot camp-style seminars on topics such as financial planning, legal issues, and design thinking.

After three months of refining their project models and working with potential partners, funders, and users, semifinalist teams presented to competition judges in February 2016. Five finalist teams, selected by a committee of Columbia University faculty and technology entrepreneurs chaired by Dean Merit E. Janow, then received additional support funding and two more months to continue to develop their project or prototype.

The five finalists—which included Concourse Markets and Nansen in addition to the three winners—presented the final version of their ideas on April 28.

— Lindsay Fuller MPA ’16

Photos, clockwise from left: Azimuth Solar (from left, Tourre, Mosia, Silverman); NaTakallam (from left, Efstathiou, Sara, Kamal, Chen); Bennaim and Zeitoun of CIGONN flank Dean Janow. 


An update on the Tech & Policy Initiative

I decided to take a detour from the classroom series today to share with you some exciting content from the Fall 2015 Tech & Policy newsletter.  Read More →

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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