Students participate in Weekly Innovation Challenge

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By Allie Wood, Contributing Writer

Students lined up in groups on the basketball court, but they were not there to play ball.

On Jan. 27, the College of Business and the College of Engineering held their first Weekly Innovation Challenge in the Clemente Center at noon.

The challenge was sponsored by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, which awarded a joint grant to the COB and COE last summer. The grant was geared toward graduating engineering students with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Director of Innovation, Jennifer Schlegel, said that the challenges were about making connections with different types of students.

“A lot of times when people may solve problems, it’s not just their own individual solutions,” Schlegel said. “Sometimes, they’ve borrowed bits and pieces from, maybe people they’ve known or they know a piece of the solution.”

The challenges were solved in groups of three with at least one engineer in a group. On Feb. 17 over 25 students showed up.

“They’re secret challenges, so they don’t get announced until Wednesdays when everybody’s there to kind of give it kind of a fair shake,” Schlegel said.

Freshman Karen Della, a business major, thought that since she was told to bring an engineering student with her, that the activity might be something with construction.

The theme for the challenge was the “Simpsons.” Students had to create a chair model based on specifications for certain Simpson characters.

KEEN provided the materials to complete the challenge. This included popsicle sticks of different sizes, foam and construction paper, cardboard, pipe cleaners, tape and other crafting materials.

The students were given 45 minutes to complete their designs. At the end of that time, the students brought their chairs to the judges table, regardless of whether it was finished or not.

The guest judge was engineer research assistant, Tizanio Bernard. Bernard said that his main concern was feel of the design and the relevance between the requirements and the design itself.

Sophomores Eric Beger, Stephen Sullivan and Chris Woodle were the winners of the contest with Ralph’s Supa Chair. Each winner received a $100 Visa gift card.

“He’s most relatable to us ’cause you know we’re recently out of high school,” Woodle said. “We’re sophomores now, so it’s easy to think about the times in class when you have a really crummy desk and what would be the best desk that everyone would be excited about.”

Schlegel expects the challenges to continue through the semester and into the fall.

“The more experience you get understanding what each individual’s’ background is and how they approach problems and how they solve problems differently and being able to work together is what really makes you really valuable when you leave campus,” Schlegel said. 

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