KEEN Challenges Students to Think Outside the Box

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 College of Business and College of Engineering last summer. The grant was geared toward graduating engineering students with an entrepreneurial mindset.

KEENDirector 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 are solved in groups of three with at least one engineer in a group.

“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.

KEEN provides the materials to complete the challenge. These materials vary each week depending on the challenge. Students are only allowed to use the given materials for the task.

DSC_0102The students are 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.

Sophomores Eric Beger, Stephen Sullivan and Chris Woodle were the winners of the Simpson chair contest on Feb. 17 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.

Article featured on The Crimson.

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