Ohio State launches student innovation challenge
Teams invited to pitch creative solutions addressing pandemic-related actions on campus
The Ohio State University is turning to students for creative ideas to keep its campuses safe and healthy, and is offering a financial incentive to make it worth their while.
The Safe and Healthy Campus Innovation Challenge is supported by the Chief Wellness Officer, Office of Student Life and the College of Nursing’s Center for Healthcare Innovation and Wellness. The goal is to ask students, and the faculty and staff who support them, to share innovative solutions to the everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a tremendous spirit of innovation at Ohio State,” said Chief Wellness Officer and College of Nursing Dean Bernadette Melnyk, “and we know our awesome and creative students can identify new ideas and solutions to engage our campus community in practices that will promote optimal health and well-being for the whole university. They will help us foster the safest and healthiest campus community possible.”
Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers agreed.
"Our Buckeye family remains committed to come through this pandemic stronger and better," Shivers said. “We can do something meaningful and impactful Together As Buckeyes, and we need the ingenuity and spirit of our students to help us do it.”
Students can pitch ideas and solutions in three key areas:
- Physical distancing in areas like student housing on and off campus, or bars and restaurants
- Wearing of face masks or face coverings
- Mental health and well-being
“It’s all about democratizing innovation, which is a theme that we’ve worked on perfecting at the Innovation Studio,” said Tim Raderstorf, chief innovation officer for the College of Nursing. “It’s based off of the belief that administrators and leaders are not usually the best people to solve the problem. The best people to solve problems are the people who experience them firsthand. There’s no better group for us to be reaching out to than students because they know the problems intimately and know what solutions may be feasible for them.”
Each pitch should include a video no longer than three minutes explaining why the solution needs to be implemented across campus. Interested faculty and staff are encouraged to pair with a cross-disciplinary team of students or to volunteer to become a mentor for teams who submit ideas.
“We’re not asking everyone to come to us with a life-altering, game-changing idea. What we’re asking for is the best idea that you have right now,” Raderstorf said. “We’re going to try everything within our power to help your ideas rise to the top.”
There will be a monetary incentive for these ideas. The first-place team for each of three key areas will receive $1,000, the second-place teams will receive $500, and there will be some level of funding for every team that pitches. The money is seed funding to help bring each idea into reality on campus.
Raderstorf said the Innovation Studio would support project teams with mentoring, materials and more financial support if warranted.
More information about the Safe and Healthy Campus Innovation Challenge is available at the challenge website. The program begins Aug. 24 and submissions are due Sept. 7. Winners will be announced at the end of September and a second challenge session is scheduled to begin in October.