Fourth-year architecture student Ana Domingo is studying her lifelong passion in her home city.

This year, she took the plunge into a worldwide competition for university students, as well as building connections between the two communities she’s part of. She shared her experience of the contest with us, and offered a little advice to her peers.

Tell us why you chose to study architecture at IE University?

Since childhood, It’s been clear in my mind that I wanted to study architecture. I don’t really know why. So when I found out that Segovia City Council was offering scholarships to study my dream career here, I started the admission process. When they granted it to me, it opened doors to an understanding of architecture and a cultural exchange that I probably wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

Ana Domingo

Are you part of any extracurricular activity—clubs, seminars, labs, etc?

During my time here I’ve been involved in various clubs, such as the IE Theater Club. In fact I founded the IE Cultural Diversity Club with some friends during the second year of my studies. We felt that the students had grouped into a microcosm that connected only vaguely to the city and its inhabitants, so we set out to create a bridge where both worlds could interact.

I also participated in the Design Lab during my first year, which gave us the opportunity to work for Segovia City Council in the remodeling of the Casa de la Lectura, the old municipal library. Currently, I combine different curricular activities with my degree, almost all of them outside the university. The only extracurricular activity I still do on campus is Mandarin Chinese lessons.

How did you get involved in the FourC Challenge?

Mar, from the Architecture Office, sent us an email during the quarantine inviting us to participate, and I thought it was a good opportunity. It happened shortly after finishing the final exams, and we were still under quarantine, so it was a very good way to get out of my comfort zone and try something radically different from the university dynamic I’m used to.

When was it held and how did you team up with your teammates?

It was organized by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and was held from June 6–7. It consisted of an uninterrupted 24-hour day during which students from universities around the world were randomly grouped into teams of four. There were three other girls in my group, they were studying product design—two of them in China and the other in Australia.

Ana Domingo

Tell us about the contest.

We had 24 hours to propose a product that would deal with some aspect of the post-pandemic world, and produce a four-minute video explaining it. We could focus on the area we wanted, as long as it was realistic and related to the impact of COVID-19 on daily life.

There were several phases, with a rough schedule for completion, which each group could then manage as they saw fit. Phase one was the definition of the team, including the name, group image, and general topic on which it focused. The second phase started as soon as the project did, and it was the longest: we had to define which product we wanted to create, with regard to which specific problem. The third phase focused on creating a more detailed prototype, for which we created a paper mock-up. And the fourth rounded it all off, with the creation of the video presentation of the idea.

What was your proposal about?

My group and I wanted to do something in the world of hospitality, to provide something that would ensure the safety of diners without needing to reduce capacity. Also because the increase in home-delivery orders is generating far more waste than usual. We weighed up different ideas until we came up with one that convinced us, developed it, made the video and delivered it. One of the main aspects was that it had to be realistic, and that it could be adapted to any type of business, which is why it’s so simple and compact.

What did you win? What type of recognition was it?

We were awarded the Winning Award, which was one of the unpaid awards. We didn’t know anything until the award ceremony itself. Later they sent certificates to our homes, which was a big surprise as I live here in Spain.

What recommendations would you give to other IE University students?

Get involved. Often, when you receive an offer from the university, whether competitions, talks or access to publications, you don’t pay too much attention and you miss very good opportunities that you might never get anywhere else. You have nothing to lose by trying. You always learn something from everything you get involved in, and you never know where it might take you.