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CKA’s stellar performance at Conrad Challenge 2024 nets over $1 million in scholarships

CKA’s stellar performance at Conrad Challenge 2024 nets over $1 million in scholarships

The City of Knowledge Academy, Ijebu-Ode who were in the 3rd position at the Nigeria CONRAD Challenge 2023, were again finalists at the 2024 edition of the Challenge where they made five unique pitches. In five teams, their projects this year were in the health/nutrition and energy/environment categories, two out of four broad categories of the Challenge. The projects were GreenTech, Slasher, Agroweb, Fertigator, and Agrosecurity.

The Conrad Challenge was founded by Nancy Conrad in honor of her late husband, astronaut, innovator, and entrepreneur, Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr. The Conrad Challenge is an annual, multi-phase innovation and entrepreneurial competition that brings together a dynamic community of innovators and entrepreneurs driving a collaborative movement to develop extraordinary and viable solutions to benefit our world in one of four areas: Aerospace & Aviation, Cyber Technology & Security, Energy & Environment, and Health & Nutrition.

For their GreenTech project, the lead pitch in its category, the students developed an innovative approach to yam farming, creating a robust alternative to planting yam tubers. This alternative, called “yam seeds,” will allow farmers plant yams without the use of yam tubers. Not only has this been tested to be a more viable approach, it also increases the yield of yam tubers.

The GreenTech project, and indeed the other projects pitched by the CKA team this year are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2), to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” Not only did the students deliver noteworthy pitches for their innovative projects, they also displayed resilience in the face of critical setbacks; they were recognized by the CONRAD 2024 panelists for this.

While delivering the pitch for one of the projects, a student from the team noted that they had to work late into the night carrying out repairs on some of their project equipment, which got damaged during a minor road accident on their journey to the CONRAD Challenge venue. Undaunted by the setback, the students came in high spirits and delivered riveting pitches.

Describing his experience at the CONRAD challenge, Oluwanifemi Bankole, the team head for the GreenTech project noted that “the experience was an outstanding one which availed the students an opportunity to grow and work as a team.” Although they expressed some discouragement over not clinching any of the top three overall positions, the students remain committed to improving their projects and developing innovative technology ahead of the next edition of the CONRAD Challenge.

With a commendation from the CONRAD panel of judges, the CKA team received the awards for most resilient team, best pitch in health and nutrition category, and best team coach, which was won by Mr. Femi Oyedoyin the CKA Biology/Agric. Science teacher and STEM Coordinator. The participating students, twenty three of them, have also received scholarship grants of $60,000 each, which amounts to $1,380,000, from select universities in USA.

 

Owing to their noteworthy performance at the Innovation Stage of the Challenge, which requires the teams to submit an Innovation Brief, the students were also recognised by Space Center Houston, with scholarship opportunities to study at Menlo College, Lewis & Clark College, and Clarkson University, among others. It is worthy of note that two students from the team have already secured admission to study at Clarkson University, New York.

Semilore Oriyomi, one of the students who has participated in the CONRAD Challenge twice, and a member of the GreenTech team, expressed her gratitude for the scholarship grants. “I feel blessed and lucky to receive the award not just once but twice. I also wish to specially thank Mr. Oyedoyin, our team coach, for believing in me throughout the whole journey,” she said.

The CKA team coach, Mr. Femi Oyedoyin, also reacted on the outcome of the 2024 CONRAD Challenge. Although he anticipated a better outcome for the team he however commended the students for their months of hard work and dedication on the various projects, and expressed his appreciation to them. “The students,” he said, “organised a surprise presentation for me after the event, and gave me a portrait among other things. It was very emotional.”

Delighted by the students’ performance and resilience, the Head of School at City of Knowledge Academy, Ms. Abiola Lamikanra, commended their efforts and has charged them to, “roll up their sleeves as they prepare for Conrad 2025. The next huge innovation will be unfolded by CKA students – the world is waiting.”