Students innovate, collaborate

Kelly Hinderberger

Kelly Hinderberger

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The newest catch-phrase being tossed around by global professionals seems to be “innovation.” Companies big and small cannot get enough of it. Billikens now have an opportunity to pick up some of this innovation. Enter the Saint Louis University Innovation Competition – an on-campus experience to help students develop innovation on their own.

Kelly Hinderberger / Associate Photo Editor

The SLU Innovation Competition was created by Parks College in partnership with the entrepreneurship department of the John Cook School of Business. Competitions are held every Tuesday from 12 a.m.  to 1 p.m. in the atrium of McDonnell-Douglas Hall. The competitions feature teams comprising multi-disciplinary students given an impromptu task and 45 minutes to an hour in which to complete it. Whichever team produces the most innovative product wins $225 dollars. Student teams include three to four members, all representing different University colleges.

According to Parks College professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering,  Sridhar Condoor, freshmen will have nearly 100 opportunities to participate in these innovation competitions. The competitions are the first of their kind anywhere in the U.S. and are made possible by the generosity of the Kern Family and the Coleman Foundation, both of whom have goals to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.

“These competitions are an opportunity to exercise [students’] creative minds to make them fit, much like one goes to the gym to make their body fit,” Condoor said.

Students who participated in the competition this past Tuesday said they enjoyed their mental workout as they hurried to complete their task: Construct the packaging for an environmentally friendly toaster.

The teams’ designs were then judged by a panel of SLU professionals who were experts in sustainability. The winning team elected to pursue a minimalist approach with packaging designed to eliminate the need for a box, instead protecting only the essentials.

John Cook School of Business senior Stephen Spring participated in Tuesday’s competition and said he enjoyed the integration of knowledge and interacting with other students.

“The innovation competitions are a fresh, new idea on campus that combines academics with a social event, and I definitely recommend this to any student,” Spring said.

John Cook School of Business Department of Entrepreneurship Chairman Dr. Jerry Katz is also involved with the innovation competitions, and, with Condoor, played a key role in their creation.

The innovation competitions are not the only opportunity for students to win big in innovation. The entrepreneurship department, along with the Coleman Foundation, is holding Idea-to-Product, a campus-wide competition open to all graduate and undergraduate SLU students. The competition is designed to aid students in developing their ideas for new products and business, with a $10,000 cash prize for the winners. The deadline for the competition is Oct. 7, and all interested students are encouraged to fill out applications.

The University is developing new majors in entrepreneurship, and the innovation competitions are just the tip of the iceberg.

“A lot of schools around the country look to Saint Louis University for innovation in entrepreneurship,” Katz said.