Wichita State students gather to solve world's pressing issues


Invent for the Planet team

Wichita State University was one of more than 40 universities around the world that competed in a 48-hour global design competition called “Invent For The Planet.” Wichita State has participated as a regional hub in Invent For the Planet (IFTP) for the past three years.

This year, three teams of Wichita State students from a variety of majors competed to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues -- problems ranging from providing health care to rural areas, addressing the spread of COVIT-19 (commonly known as the coronavirus), eliminating the spread of fake news and providing equitable education.

Students collaborated in the John Bardo Center from later afternoon Friday, Feb. 14, until Final Competition on Sunday. They spent the weekend researching and brainstorming solutions, designing a prototype, filming and editing a 90-second video commercial, developing a business plan and crafting their 10-minute pitch presentation.

The winning team, GreenBill, worked to create an app that encourages residents to measure and decrease their carbon footprint. Their app prototype allows users to compete with their neighbors to be the most energy efficient. The team consisted of Rafael Bene Liete, Carlos Gatti, Jefferson Vieira, Felipe Lima de Oliviera, Felipe Lopes and Duilho Frigo.

“I wish that every engineer could go through challenges [and] events like that. It is not only fun, but also invaluable for professional growth,” Bene Liete says of his experience at IFTP.

IFTP is hosted by the Wichita State University Innovation Fellows and the Institute of Innovation, and is funded through partnerships with Airbus, GoCreate, a Koch Initiative, the WSU Center for Entrepreneurship and WSU Ventures. The judges for the Final Competition were Mark Torline and Nancy Kersenbrock from the Center for Entrepreneurship, Debbie Franklin and Sherry Gegen from WSU Strategic Initiatives, and Dean Andrew Hippisley of Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Our goal with IFTP, and with other design challenges that we host, is to show students that innovation isn’t something that only engineers are allowed to do. Everyone is an innovator,” Sierra Bonn, communications director for IFTP and University Innovation Fellow says. “The successful teams, in this competition and in all industries, are teams who have diverse perspectives, backgrounds and skill sets.”

For more information about Invent For The Planet, or to get involved in future design thinking challenges, follow the University Innovation Fellows on social media or email them at wsuuif@gmail.com.

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