Wright’s Engineering Students Are Focused on Building a Sustainable Future


A new celebration has hit the world stage in recent years, with the goal of bringing awareness to a profession that’s been around for ages. However, World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, which was officially introduced in 2019 and is now recognized annually on March 4th, isn’t a conventional celebration of engineering – it’s focused on highlighting the sector’s achievements in making our modern world a more sustainable place.

Stefany Cardenas and Yacine Boulaioune, two students in the Engineering Program at Wright College, have plans to do just that. In fact, last fall, the future engineers jumped at the chance to participate in the Civic Tech Challenge proposed by Mayor Lightfoot, ThinkChicago, and ChicagoNEXT of World Business Chicago, which asked participating groups to propose tech-focused solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic that align with the City’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.

With the support of their fellow students at Wright, Stefany and Yacine’s teams ended up taking home the first and second place trophies out of more than 500 other students from 24 schools and 12 states. Read more about their projects – and bright futures – below.

Meeting Chicagoans where they’re at

Stefany Cardenas

When she heard about the Civic Tech Challenge last October, Stefany Cardenas immediately thought of a prototype for a self-sustaining planter that she had been dreaming up. Using that idea as a model, her team developed a proposal to bring self-sustaining tech community gardens to Chicago neighborhoods as a response to the economic hardships created by COVID-19.

With a group of fellow Wright students at her side, Stefany was selected to present the idea before a panel of judges at the virtual conference… and they won. In the moment, Stefany said she couldn’t believe they had just scored ahead of hundreds of other students, but she felt her education at Wright prepared her to succeed in the competition.

Supporting the city’s small businesses

Yacine Boulaioune

Yacine Boulaioune, another student in Wright’s Engineering Program, wasn’t far behind – his team finished in second place at the event. Through their project, Yacine and his classmates developed plans for a social media app that businesses could use to connect to each other and with the public during the pandemic. The app would allow local businesses to share information about their services, products, and job openings during a time of immense hardship for the industry.

Yacine, who moved to the U.S. from Algeria, Africa, just over two years ago and found his way to Wright, was excited that out of all the participants, the competition’s first and second place finishers were community college students. It’s proof that Wright has a “very organized program for engineering that allows students to learn and develop themselves,” he said.

Looking forward, it’s clear that both Stefany and Yacine have bright futures ahead in the engineering sector. As participants of Wright’s Engineering Pathways Program, Stefany is dually enrolled at Wright and the Illinois Institute of Technology and is working towards her degree in computer engineering, while Yacine plans to head to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall to study the same discipline.

With the spotlight on engineering during World Engineering Day, Stefany and Yacine deserve another round of applause for their achievements and proposals to create a more sustainable, resilient future for our city and greater society.