Competition encourages students to work toward U.N. Sustainable Development Goals
The IDEAL Center for Innovation at Lafayette launched the 2016 IPrize challenge focusing on sustainability on Monday. One month earlier, the UN affirmed a commitment to sustainable development, inspiring the focus of the prize.
Students will be asked to create a project that addresses“Economic Growth and one other United Nations Sustainable Development Goal,” according to a poster for the competition.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2016 include quality education, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, ending poverty and hunger and more. But the IPrize challenge is focused mostly on economic sustainability, according to the IDEAL center website.
One major goal of this year’s IPrize project aims at having students collaborate across campus and across a wide variety of majors, said Barker Carlock‘17, who added that the IDEAL center will also be looking for an intersection between engineering and liberal arts for this project.
A chemical engineer at Lafayette, Carlock is closely involved with the IDEAL Center.
“The idea was that if we can incentivize students with a grand prize, to come together with an entrepreneurial spirit to try and develop something with not only their background knowledge but with someone of a different background knowledge, we could make some pretty cool products,” Carlock said.
To be eligible for the competition, teams must have members from more than one class year and more than one academic division, according to an overview packet of the competition, provided by professor and Co-Director of the IDEAL Center for Innovation JamesFerri. Teams will be givensupport in the form of lessons on how to give workshops and oral presentations or draft a business proposal. These skills are all ones that students may not necessarily receive from a single course, Ferri said.
Grand prize winners of the competition will receive $5,000 while first prize winners will receive $2,000 and second prize will receive $1,000. According to Ferri, if a student entered with three people and won the grand prize, it would be more than he or she could make in a semester with a campus job.
“You’re doing an idea that you want,” he added. “And you can do it with your friends. So it’s a pretty good gig.”
IPrize entries can be based on student’s original ideas or based on a sponsored challenge. If the entry that wins is based on a sponsored challenge, the sponsor will award prize money to the winner. If the entry that wins is based on an original idea, an outside sponsor will provide the prize money, according to the IPrize website.
A list of sponsors should be available at the end of February, Ferri said.
According to President Alison Byerly, Lafayette is not the first school to participate in a competition like the IPrize competition.
“The IDEAL Center has been in consultation with a couple of other national organizations who do this type of competition, so it’s appearing on many campuses as a way to stimulate student interest and give students opportunities to get support and funding for things that might stand out [from] their normal coursework,” Byerly said.
Carlock agrees that the IPrize will provide a platform for students to engage in creative work outside their majors.
“I don’t think there are many creative spaces on campus where a lot of people can come together and collaborate,” said Carlock. “So the idea was that the prize would bring students together to make that space.”