Waynesburg University students get creative for Innovation Challenge

Video Courtesy of WCTV

This month, Waynesburg University hosted its third annual Innovation Challenge, which is a competition designed to encourage creativity and innovation among students. Due to COVID-19, the format of the challenge has changed slightly. 

“The first two years, we did things a little bit differently,” Melinda Walls, Stover Chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership, said. “Instead of students submitting videos as they did this year, we did kind of a trade show type display, and the campus community voted.”

The prompt for the challenge has also changed over the three years that Waynesburg University has done the event. Students who participated in the challenge this year were limited only by the number of different materials that they could incorporate. This was different from the first and second year, when students were asked to create something out of duct tape and plastic bags respectively.

“It was a little more vague this year, compared to previous years. They usually give you materials, but this year it was a little more broad. It gave you a little more creativity,” Adam Dolan, senior accounting major, said.

According to Walls, another change made was an adjustment to the way that the competition is judged. In previous years, the challenge would be judged at a public showcase event where judges and the campus community could each vote for their favorite projects.This year, the projects will be judged through a two-round process. The first round will consist of scoring by a group of judges. On Oct. 1, the winners of that round will move on to the second round of judging, this time consisting of a campus-wide vote and scoring by a new group of judges. On Oct. 8, the winners of the challenge will be announced.

“We’ll have awards for the judge’s favorites and then also the fan favorites, because we really like having the community involved with helping us pick a winner.”

According to Walls, one of the goals for this challenge is to teach students to solve problems in creative ways, and some students feel that this goal has been met.

“It definitely helps with creativity and innovation. You don’t need to have a grand idea, you just have to do something better or cheaper than someone else,” Dolan said.

Some students used their projects to help support a cause they believe in. Gloria Reed, a junior business management major, used the money raised from her project selling coasters to benefit the family of a suicide victim and hoped that they could be used to brighten someone’s day.

“These coasters, for me at least, are for showing that you are loved, and that if you are going through a tough situation you can get through it,” Reed said. “Not only can you use it as a coaster, you can put it on your windowsill or put it on the wall along with a pen, and just have it there as a little reminder.” 

According to Walls, students will be able to vote on the projects that the judges select as finalists soon.

“The fan favorite, when the public will be able to vote, will open up October first and run for a week,” Walls said.