2022 $50,000 Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack

On January 25th, the DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack was held in the Saab Center, Perry Atrium from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Holly Lalos, Director of the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute opened up the event by welcoming everyone and providing introductions.

Then, Provost Joe Hartman spoke about the importance of solving problems and having a social impact. Then, he encouraged all attendees to apply to the $50,000 Idea Challenge.

Next, Rist DifferenceMaker CO-OP Students Adam Basma and Yeaharne Hout, from the Manning School of Business, introduced the University based creativity program. They explained details for the 10th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge taking place this semester. The 2022 DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge application is due February 11 at 5 p.m.!

From left to right: Director Holly Lalos and CO-OP students Adam Basma, and Yeaharne Hout. Yeaharne Hout is presenting on student teams. Photo credit to Dean Sandra Richtermeyer.

After the introductory presentation, the real-life DifferenceMaker Panel and Q&A session took place! The panel consisted of members from past DifferenceMaker teams who answered questions from Director Holly Lalos and shared their experiences with DifferenceMaker. First up was Edward Morante of BenjiBall, who studied Education and FAHSS and won the 2019 Rist-Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker prize, a $6,000 award. The Q&A was then followed up with Benard Tabu of Green Fertilizer, who studies Energy Engineering and won the 2021 Contribution to a Sustainable Environment prize, a $4,000 award. Lastly, Ariel Shramko of Terminus, who studies Environmental Engineering and won the 2021 Honorable Mention, a $2,000 award, answered questions and provided advice to the student audience.

Holly Lalos asked the panelists a series of questions which gave the student audience a better understanding of the requirements to be in the DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge and more information about their startups. The audience then got the chance to ask the panelists valuable questions.

Real-life DifferenceMaker Panel members from left to right; Edward Morante, Benard Tabu, and Ariel Shramko. Rist DifferenceMaker Director, Holly Lalos, far right, is asking a question to Ariel Shramko, representing team Terminus.

Following the Q&A, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, led the students in the Idea Hack Activity to get students brainstorming potential ideas they could apply to the challenge. Students sat at tables which represented different topics, which were Art and Music, Consumer Products, Environmental, Finance and Banking, Healthcare, Innovative Technology, and Social Responsibility.

The students started to brainstorm problems related to their table’s topics and then started to discuss possible solutions. The students were able to collaborate with each other and with the DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellows. Towards the end of this activity, students shared their problems and solutions to everyone.

A group of students networking and discussing the problem of food waste at the Social Responsibility table.

To close off this engaging event, Holly Lalos spoke about next steps in getting involved in DifferenceMaker and being engaged in the $50,000 Idea Challenge. The $50,000 Idea Challenge application is due by February 11 at 5 p.m.

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