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Saluki Idea Competition open to voters

By Elizabeth zinchuk

Some students have pitched their big ideas in hopes to win some extra cash and recognition.

A new event this year titled the Saluki Idea Competition, received its last submissions Thursday and is open for voting online at today through Oct. 14. Similar competitions were held at other research universities, and the Saluki Idea Competition will be implemented at SIU annually, said Jeff Myers, senior technology transfer specialist in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, which helped organize the contest.

Winners can receive $500, $200 or $50 in cash through the competition or the $1,000 top prize provided by SIU’s Sustainability Council, said Amy Hunter, a technology transfer specialist who reviews the submissions. Creators of the top five submissions with the highest number of votes will present a three-minute pitch to a judge panel at the Technology and Innovation Expo Oct. 19 at the university’s Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, Hunter said.


“It is about innovative solutions to ideas and product services for inventions related to sustainability in your community,” Myers said.

Hunter said organizers built the crowd-voting feature so people could get involved on an interactive level. Complete submissions will each get their own page on the competition website, she said. Submitted campaigns are advertised, and Hunter said anyone can vote through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn.

“Other schools have had similar competitions, but (they) have done it traditionally without the social media aspect,” Myers said.

Participants have to not only submit their idea, Hunter said, but they also have to explain what is unique about it and how it will make money.

Hunter said one of the competition’s benefits is that it will give students exposure and contacts along with monetary awards.

“Basically, this is going to give students additional support to take their ideas further if they want to, or they could just win their award and be happy with that,” Hunter said.

Fifteen total submissions were entered into the contest, she said.

Myers said the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research is able to organize the competition and expo through sponsors. One sponsor is the Sustainability Council, and others include separate campus colleges as well as local businesses.

“The theme for the Saluki Idea Competition is sustainability in the community, so it seemed appropriate that we support them,” said Makayla Bonney, Sustainability Council chair.

Bonney said she liked the idea of giving students resources to empower their ideas.

Jeremy Koshak, a senior from Alameda, Calif., studying art, said he submitted his “Power Caulk Gun” idea to gain recognition. He said the idea promotes a new design for a caulk gun that is easier to use, time-saving and more efficient.

“It was something fun to do outside of class,” Koshak said.

He said he will spend the prize money on textbook expenses if he wins the competition.

Jeremy Packer, a sophomore from Metropolis studying computer science, said he has had his idea for a long time and has been working on it for nine months. He said his submission, called “Life at Southern,” aims to unite the campus.

Packer said “Life At Southern” is a new website and mobile app for students to discover and connect with events, places and activities around the area. Students on this website can find events and attractions to visit in Carbondale through this platform, he said.

“I attended the help sessions for the Saluki Idea Competition, and they were really informative,” Packer said. “This competition encourages students to get their ideas out there.”

Joy Christensen, a senior from St. Louis studying art, is part of the team that submitted the “HCV Test” campaign and said she would use her reward money to fund research and development of her idea. “HCV Test” is a project that aims to provide a home Hepatitis C diagnostic exam that is affordable, private, easy to conduct and uses economically responsponsible materials, according to Christensen’s campaign information.

“This competition is a way for our idea to get noticed by as many people as possible,” Christensen said.

Myers and Hunter both said they have high expectations for the competition.

“We have had other competitions that we have been indirectly involved in with limited success, but they have not really caught on like we wanted to,” Myers said.

She said she thinks it’s exciting how much interest the competition has received.

“We hope the whole idea grows with participation so that we could get more faculty and sponsors involved in the future,” Myers said.


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