“Desafío Conexión” Program of CMPC and IncubaUdeC aims to connect young talent with the professional world

The program promoted by CMPC and IncubaUdeC is committed to connecting young talent with employment through the search for innovative solutions for the territories where the company runs its operations.

In October 2019, CMPC and the Universidad de Concepción signed a collaboration agreement with the aim of developing a long-term and mutually beneficial alliance structured around three pillars: developing the industry of the future, developing new talents, and creating and accelerating entrepreneurship and innovation through agreements that materialize in initiatives like the Desafío Conexión [Connection Challenge]. The third edition of “Connection Challenge” will take place over the course of 15 weeks with 22 students from the Universidad de Concepción working on multidisciplinary teams to solve problems posed by the municipalities of Chillán, Cañete, San Rosendo, Laja, Negrete, Nacimiento and Collipulli that are participating in the program. 

“Because we at IncubaUdeC support everything that has to do with entrepreneurship activities, it is very important to work with the community and for our students to apply what they’ve learned in their different degree programs, solving challenges in which they meet on multidisciplinary teams so they can contribute from their diverse perspectives to solve a common problem that the municipalities of the various participating regions are dealing with,” said Beatriz Millán, UdeC Technological Entrepreneurship Support Platform Executive Director.

Meanwhile, CMPC Corporate Affairs Universal Projects Deputy Manager Paula Aguirre highlighted the program’s utility. “Through the Connection Challenge, we are facilitating the linking of future professionals with real problems and challenges, such as those posed this year by the seven districts that are part of the initiative. With the support of the students and that of the university and the company, we hope to obtain good proposals that are useful and sustainable for the municipalities.”  

Bringing UdeC talents closer to challenges

The role of the sponsors – municipal representatives – is a key element for the program’s success, since they will be in charge of coordinating and supervising the activities that will be carried out to achieve the objectives set for 2023. 

Paola Carrasco, in charge of the Office of Local Economic Development of the Municipality of Cañete, was motivated by this challenge. The district seeks to create the Anique Park, a space that spans 13.8 hectares so they can turn it into a place for residents to gather. “Some of our activities have gone stagnant, which applies to Anique Park. We want to get this space ready to go in direct benefit of the community. We have encountered some obstacles due to the issue of the valorization of the project, so as a municipality we’ve been a little overwhelmed and this is something we need. We think that the students, UdeC, and CMPC could be our new good strategic partners to carry out this project that is highly desired by the local community,” he said. 

Matías Barrientos is a student of the Master of Computer Science and thesis preparation student in Industrial Civil Engineering at the Universidad de Concepción. Together with three other students, he will try to solve the Forest Fire Detection Challenge of the Municipality of San Rosendo.

“The social impact that detecting forest fires can have, especially because of the fires that have been hitting hard ever since 2017 until this year, was the primary and greatest motivation regarding the challenge. Being able to generate contact networks was another key motivator. The sponsor was very open and welcoming to us. We had a general idea of how to approach the problem, the challenge and also how to work together. We had the motivation and the will to go directly into the field, which I consider to be extremely important in fire detection. Our team is made up of four members and most of us are pursuing postgraduate studies. We have members from various areas, making us a multi-disciplinary team,” said Matías Barrientos. 

By the end of December, students will have to submit their reports to the municipal districts that posed the following challenges: a manual of procedures for the Economic and Productive Development Department in Chillán; the development of a restoration and landscaping plan for Anisque Park in Cañete; a tourism plan for Laja to connect to the digital age in Laja; improving the electrical and computer system in Nacimiento; a tourism development plan in Negrete; a forest fire detector in San Rosendo; and a plan to develop sustainable green areas in Collipulli. 

Testimonials from previous challenges

The launch ceremony was also attended by Laura Echeverría, Sofía Marín, Cecilia Muñoz and Felipe Conejeros, former participants of the program who received different awards in the 2020 and 2021 editions and who wanted to share their experiences with the new generation of students who will be part of the Connection Challenge. 

Felipe Conejeros, who received the award for the best student in the second edition, said that the experience was very enriching. “There was a lot of talent, very capable people, a lot of tools and a great deal of motivation and good communication. The willingness of our counterpart, who in that case was a CMPC engineer, was very important. The program allowed us to engage in conversations of a higher level than we did at the undergraduate level. It is very gratifying to do professional-level work and know that you’re going to make an impact, in my case, on hundreds of companies and all the people who are part of them.” 

For her part, Cecilia Muñoz, an environmental engineer whose group was chosen as having the best pitch in 2021, said that participating in the program was impactful because of getting to apply the knowledge acquired in the EULA, and then to apply it fully at a company that is demanding results. “You have to meet goals. As a student, you are used to goals such as competitions, school work, and the teachers themselves being a bit more flexible, but here you had to answer to a company, which was paying you for it. It was very good, and it formed my character. I trained as a professional, and I have fond memories about it,” she recalled.