Posted: April 18, 2017, 5:35pm
Last month a few of my friends and I competed at the Global Health Case Competition (GHCC) at USC, and although my team lost the competition, the winning group asked me to join their team to compete in the international GHCC in Emory University. The competition prompt was to address the overwhelming presence of mental illness in Liberia. As an engineer, I was out of my comfort zone, and after the disappointment of losing the USC competition, I could have refused the offer and gone back to my research. However, due to a mixture of curiosity and rashness, I decided a few minutes after meeting the winning group to go along with them to Atlanta, GA to compete in the international GHCC. My new team members were studying global health, city and county management, homeland security, and human biology – by no means a team which would include an engineer under typical circumstances.
But I have learned over and again during my graduate studies to never underestimate a group of highly incongruent collaborators who are tenacious in their pursuit of shared goal. Ultimately, our team ended up placing first in the international GHCC at Emory University and I walked away feeling reassured of my decision to push myself beyond my comfort, and slightly richer too!
Looking back, it seems like a brilliant idea to put six people who don’t have overlapping skills on a project as open ended as addressing mental illness. Nevertheless, there are clear hurdles when working on such a team. Specifically, each member must be eager to learn completely new things from other domain experts, and be able to map his or her own knowledge to a language that others can quickly understand. Interdisciplinary teamwork can be tedious in the beginning, but the payoff can be big if the team focuses on open-mindedness and effective communication.
Published on July 27th, 2017
Last updated on August 10th, 2017