P2IRC Launches Transdisciplinary Student Competition

April 10, 2017

P2IRC Transdisciplinary Student Competition

On April 10, 2017, P2IRC launched a transdisciplinary student competition to design a module that would be capable of delivering year-round nutritional security to northern Canadian communities.

The Unique Problem

Canada is a country where the idea of food insecurity seems almost inconceivable. We have a large land mass, highly productive agriculture, extensive infrastructure, and a large urban population (>25 million) with ample quantities of high nutritional quality foods. Despite this perception, many Canadians suffer from what has been termed "hidden hunger", an insufficiency of essential nutrients that is not necessarily tied to caloric intake. At northern latitudes, Canadian communities may experience only 80 frost-free days per year and so are subject to a very short growing season. Compounding this difficult agricultural situation, many of these communities are also remote and rely on imports of both inexpensive and less nutritive market foods and exorbitantly expensive produce items to fill their plates.

The Challenge

P2IRC students will work together in teams that are representative of P2IRC's four thematic areas to design a module suitable for the production of nutritious produce that could provide year-round nutritional security for a remote, northern community of 200-300 people. The modules must be cost-effective, capable of functioning in winter temperatures as low as -50C, and provide appropriate photosynthetic radiation to support the rapid growth of the chosen plants.

Students will report on their progress at the 2nd Annual P2IRC Symposium on June 21 and present their final reports for evaluation in late October of 2017.

The Prize

The winning team, as determined by P2IRC's Executive Research Committee and a panel of external judges, will be awarded up to $100,000 to bring the module that they have designed to life as a demonstrable prototype.

For more information, or to get involved with advising or sponsoring a student team, please email gifs-p2irc@usask.ca.

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