Students Awarded for Social Impact Ideas

October 25, 2019

Three teams received awards for their projects as part of the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation's "Social Impact Challenge." This is a competition where Bradley University students are challenged to create innovative ideas for sustainable enterprises that will produce a positive impact on the wellbeing of communities, families, or individuals.

Pierre Paul is a senior political science major, and Emma Hoyhtya is a junior management and leadership major, together they designed a project called We Hear You. The problem identified was the inability of hearing-impaired people to communicate in public places. The solution proposed was a smartphone app that uses the camera to translate a hearing-impaired person's visual sign language into audio for use by those who cannot sign. The app can also translate audio into sign language that the hearing-impaired user can view on their phone. Paul is from Wooster, OH, and Hoyhtya is from Saint Paul, MN. They received 1st place and were awarded $4000.

Abigail Ihrke is a graduate student business administration major who designed a project called Vertical Integration. The problem identified was the inability of many in impoverished neighborhoods to access affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in a way that accommodates their lack of transportation to distant grocery stores. The proposed solution is to use a building in Peoria's warehouse district to create a hydroponic community garden designed to combat food deserts. The location would be on an existing bus line. Community members can obtain fruits and vegetables at the garden location, or from a mobile delivery unit that will visit targeted neighborhoods. Ihrke, of Phoenix, AZ, received 2nd place and was awarded $2000.

Dillon OBrien is a sophomore management and leadership major who designed a project called H8 No More. The problem to be solved is the increasing prevalence of cyberbullying by children, and the resulting mental and emotional damage caused by it. The solution proposed was a smartphone app designed to combat cyberbullying by filtering out hateful messages before they are sent. When a child prepares to send a message, the app will recognize potentially bullying language, ask the child if they really want to send the message, and suggest three alternate messages that are not bullying in nature. The child's phone is also paired with their parent's phone. When the child attempts to send a bullying message, the parent is notified so they can take corrective action. OBrien of Lisle, IL, received 3rd place and was awarded $1000.

Social impact ideas could be pursued using either the non-profit or for-profit organizational structure. Competitors were required to submit a 5-page paper describing their idea for round one. The top seven competitors advanced to the final round, where they provided a 10-minute presentation to judges. The scores of the judging panel comprised 70% of the total score, while audience scores provided the remaining 30%.

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