Purdue Polytechnic Institute challenges students to develop solutions that fight human trafficking in the Americas

The Polytechnic will host a public information presentation and all-night student brainstorming competition designed to help end modern-day slavery in North, Central and South America

Design Innovation Challenge: Fight Human Trafficking in the Americas

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND., JANUARY 29, 2019 – On February 14, 2019, Purdue Polytechnic Institute will host a public presentation and panel discussion on human trafficking, followed by an all-night student work session in which teams of students will develop solutions to mitigate the modern-day kidnapping and slavery epidemic of human trafficking.

The public is invited to attend all or part of the morning information session, which runs from 8:55 a.m. until 2 p.m. Attendees will learn about the state of human trafficking in the Americas from advocacy programs, policy makers, businesses and survivors. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no charge, but attendees – including student teams – must register in advance at polytechnic.purdue.edu/humantrafficking.

After 2 p.m., students will break into teams and work throughout the night to develop innovative solutions to human trafficking. Experts and community representatives will select the two teams with the best potential solutions. The first-place team members will share a cash prize of $4,000; the second-place team will share a $1,500 cash prize.

Student teams have until 8:30 a.m. on Friday, February 15, 2019, to submit their innovate solution. Judging begins at 9 a.m., and the winning teams will be announced by noon that same day.

Human trafficking is defined by the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) as a crime that “occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.” While human trafficking is a global phenomenon, it has a local impact – even here in Indiana. Interstate 65 serves as a “trafficking superhighway,” NHTH consistently reports year-over-year increases in calls related to human trafficking in Indiana.

This research connects with Purdue's 150 Years of Giant Leaps in Health, Longevity and Quality of Life “Human trafficking is not just someone else’s problem,” said Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, assistant professor of computer and information technology for Purdue Polytechnic Institute and co-chairperson for the Polytechnic’s event. “It’s happening right here in the Greater Lafayette community.”

Chad Laux, associate professor of computer and information technology for Purdue Polytechnic Institute and co-chairperson for the event, emphasizes the event’s plan to create multidisciplinary teams, in which students can each bring their own expertise to bear on the challenge.

“The issue of human trafficking is one that requires a wide community of people, from a variety of backgrounds, to take a stake in the problem,” said Laux.

Individual students and student teams must register in advance at polytechnic.purdue.edu/humantrafficking. Students who register individually will be assigned to a team, which will consist of three to eight students, with one graduate student per team. Students may bring their own electronic devices – laptops, mobile phones, etc. – to assist in their problem-solving. Refreshments and meals will be provided for registered participants throughout the event, which is co-sponsored by Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Purdue Peace Project, Discovery Park at Purdue University and The Data Mine.

This event aligns with Purdue’s Giant Leaps celebration, recognizing the University’s global advancements made in health, longevity and quality of life as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

About Purdue Polytechnic Institute

Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of the 10 academic colleges at Purdue University, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a range of disciplines: aviation, computing, construction management, engineering technology, technology leadership and technology education. In addition to Purdue University’s main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue Polytechnic offers select degree programs in nine Indiana communities.

About Purdue Polytechnic’s Department of Computer and Information Technology

The Department of Computer and Information Technology at Purdue provides educational opportunities that apply information technology to societal problems. Degree programs in information systems technology and network engineering technology focus on four core areas: software development, systems integration, data management and computer networks. The department’s drive to solve problems also extends to industrial and corporate partners and funded faculty research projects.


Media Contact:

Melissa Templeton
Director of Marketing and Communications
Purdue Polytechnic Institute

templetm@purdue.edu | (765) 496-0094


Additional information:


People in this Article: