The Waynesburg University eHive’s fourth annual “Something from Nothing” Innovation Challenge was underway last week as students participated in creating an object of value out of recycled plastic waste.
Like last year’s innovation challenge, this fall semester’s competition has come with its own challenges.
The eHive’s Program Coordinator, Cassy Dorsch, described the difficult process in determining what would be safe for the students on campus participating in this year’s event.
Prior to 2020, the event was held in the auxiliary gymnasium where students would have a table and a display to present their innovation to others as they were passing through. With the circumstances at hand surrounding COVID-19, they were unable to gather in groups, thus they started a digital submission.
An additional part of the competition is now a video. Students advertise their inventions through videography and are posted online for others to view.
“The trick is to not only make a product, but to sell it, ” Professor Andy Heisey, member of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Faculty Fellows (ELFF) and Chair of the Fine Arts Department, said in an interview. “All of these skills are really important when thinking about how to sell the things that you do.”
He believes that video submission creates a secondary outlet for creative expression in the competition.
“How can you make something that has value?” Heisey said. “It could be social value, it could be monetary value, it could be something that helps something else. It shouldn’t just be about recycling. How can it make a difference in the world around you?”
These are some of the thing’s students had to contemplate while contracting their items for this year’s theme:reusing or repurposing plastic.
Melinda Walls, the eHive Director, gave more insight into the theme.
“I think everyone understands that plastic waste is a problem and would like to do something about it. We really feel like it is bringing awareness to the problem,” she said.
Heisey is also particularly passionate about reusing plastic for purpose.
Three years ago, he was approached by faculty member Camilo Jauregui. According to Heisey, Jauregui wanted to know how to make plastic waste into instruments so that he could return to his home in Columbia and teach children how to play music.
Since then, Heisey has been devoted to researching, learning different techniques and experimenting to show the students how useful the material we throw away is.
Only 8.7% of the world’s plastic is recycled, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Elyse Morgan is a second-year competitor in the innovation challenge.
“This challenge has impacted me because I have learned that even throwing a bottle into the recycling or recycling a plastic bag is super helpful and helps the Earth a lot.” She said “Recycling is super easy, and it is a simple way of saving energy and reducing air and water pollution. I am going to do my part and try to recycle more.”
Dorsch agreed with Morgan when stating, “I know personally, over this past week, I have definitely been more cautious about throwing plastic away because I have been able to see the things people have been making.”
It is already becoming evident that students have been impacted by this event. The eHive is excited to continue encouraging students to grow and learn through their programs.
Heisey said, “I think we are at the beginning of something really important at the University. We are at the beginning, and I think something amazing is coming.”
Even though the participants have completed and submitted their final projects on Sept. 23 the competition is still progressing. The start of the voting process was Sept. 30. Voting will be open until Oct. 6 and the winners will be announced the following day.
Everyone is invited to join in and support the students by voting online. Voting details can be found on the eHive’s website at www.waynesburg.edu/ehive. Winners of the challenge will receive up to $100 per member.
“Students should vote because they get to see the work that their classmates have done, and they can get inspired to help the Earth in their own way,” Morgan said. “Maybe they will see something that will spark their interest and they can create something to help the Earth.”