“What is your it?”
These are the words written on the wall inside the eHive, right beside the title of the eHive’s latest competition for Waynesburg Students: “See It, Solve It.” In the last competition of the year, students were tasked with finding problems they see in the world and finding creative ways to solve them. They then presented their solutions in a 90-second pitch in front of a board of judges.
Junior accounting major Frank Sullivan presented two ideas for solutions in two different walks of life.
“I had a flu shot pill idea, basically making the flu shot into a pill so that it could be more accessible,” Sullivan said. “My second idea was having an app that takes the bias out of news sources by reporting only the facts and the commonalities between national news websites.”
Sullivan lauded the competition for its reach across backgrounds and majors.
“It kind of tests your ideas as future entrepreneurs, and it kind of inspires you to realize you don’t have to be an entrepreneur or a business major,” Sullivan said. “Every major was pitching ideas and they have good ideas, so it also helps them to develop their ideas.”
Melinda Walls, chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership, said the idea for the competition came from the main goal of the eHive.
“It comes from the essence of what we want to do here at the eHive,” she said, “and that is to help people identify problems that are important to them that they might solve in the world around them. That was really the premise of the pitch competition. We wanted students to identify a problem and then tell us their idea for a solution.”
Walls was impressed with the student response to the competition and credits the students that took the challenge to pitch an idea.
“We were really pleasantly surprised,” Walls said. “This was the first time we have done anything like a pitch competition here on campus, and it can really be intimidating to stand in front of a group of people and pitch your idea for a solution. I really wasn’t sure how the response would be, but we had 17 people pitch. That is really good, and they were from majors all over the campus.”
The judging board consisted of Walls, Ryan Smith, assistant director of Student Activities, and Cassy Dorsch, program coordinator at the eHive.
“Each of us brought something different to the scoring,” Walls said. “Ryan brought the university student perspective, and some of the people pitched problems they saw here at Waynesburg University. Cassy specializes in social entrepreneurship, and several students had ideas that were social in nature. My expertise is more in the for-profit realm. That’s the reason we selected the panel that we did, so we have a Waynesburg perspective, a social perspective and then a traditional business perspective.”
The board selected Briana Armenia, Paul Berg, Reagan Haughton, Daniel Kephart, Samantha Morad, Tyler Turbett and Chyanne Vanzant to compete in the final round April 10. The finalists will present a more developed plan for their solutions for a first prize of $300, a second prize of $200 and a third prize of $100.
Walls believes the ability to solve problems will always be valued in the workforce, no matter what industry, and therefore makes the skill an important one to emphasize.
“I really believe that the future of work is changing dramatically because of technology. Things like artificial intelligence, automation and robotics are going to change the way that we live and work in the future. So I think it’s vitally important for students to be aware of what’s happening around them, look at problems and actually be able to solve them themselves.”