A team of students from West Virginia University took the grand prize in an international 24-hour innovation competition.
The competition, held by École de Technologie Superieure in Montreal, Canada, hosted more than 1,500 students from five continents. The goal is to encourage teams find creative solutions to challenges put forward by businesses.
At the beginning of the competition, teams are presented with 20 problems that were submitted by businesses on the event’s website. The teams then have 24 hours to choose a topic, develop a concept and create a two-minute video to present their solution.
The winning team, called the Y-Nots, included WVU students Joshua Kurnot, Fares Alblouwy and Kristin Krumenacker and ÉTS student ambassadors Asmaa Rahali, Milad Naderi and Sylvain Degue.
The Y-Nots agreed upon a challenge titled, “Reinvent the Stairs.” The submitting organization was looking for a way to entice college students to use staircases more often, thus forgoing the use of elevators and escalators.
The idea submitted by the WVU team was to create a rewards system. Students would scan their IDs when they entered and exited the staircase and earn points that they could then use at locations across campus. Additionally, the team advocated for the installation of small, electric generators under each step, which could generate 5 watts per step, per person, making the building sustainable.
Their idea and video were judged by a local panel and the best ideas were sent to the international judges located in Montreal. The next morning during a webcast, WVU, in its first time competing, was announced as the winner.
"I started my journey abroad to study medicine, but I switched to engineering because I loved it," said Alblouwy. "WVU is a great engineering school and our professors really care about the students. They've told me that it's not all about learning in books; you have to learn in life as well. This is an example of that."
The team’s winning video submission can be viewed online here.