By Courtney Kilmer ’17

Over the weekend, The Point at Otterbein University hosted its inaugural IdeaFest, an event that challenged students to tackle problems within the community and come together to solve them. The theme this year was social innovation, so the ideas revolved around coming up with solutions for topics ranging from mental health education and awareness to food insecurity, and clean drinking water to homelessness.

IdeaFest 2017 started with a wall of sticky notes, each with a different topic written on it. Participants then chose the topic they were most passionate about and formed teams based on that shared interest. There were five teams total. Teams dedicated the first day understanding the idea, compiling research and brainstorming how they could actually solve the issue. On the second day, teams created a presentation about their idea and pitched it to a panel of four judges. The winning idea received $1,000 toward implementation into the community.

Erin Bender, executive director of The Point and the coordinator of the IdeaFest, said that the ideas were judged based on four criteria points.

“The teams had to be very thorough in their planning and vetting of proposed projects until there was a clear path forward toward potential implementation,” Bender said. “With that in mind, we considered creativity, synergy, plan and impact while deliberating on each team’s ideas.”

When choosing their idea, many students tackled an issue that was near and dear to their heart.

“We had a lot of participants that had a personal connection to the topic that they chose. It was mind-blowing to see that some of these students were working so hard to make a difference not only in their personal life but in the community as well,” said Bender.

Team M.E.M.E. had chosen the topic of mental health education and awareness. According to team member Jenny McFarland ’20, the team chose to focus on mental health reforms. They came up with the idea to have a workshop and after-school alliance for mental health awareness at the local high schools for students, teachers and faculty members.

“I am a deep believer that no problem, issue or adversity will change or resolve itself until someone becomes the catalyst for change,” said Madison Moore ’20, another member of Team M.E.M.E. “I believe we must all remind ourselves of the responsibility we all share to create a brighter future for those who come next. The leaders of the future are us and we must start small in our own communities.”

Their passion shined through their idea and presentation, and Team M.E.M.E. came away with first place.

Bender plans to continue the event in the future, and hopes now that the event is known around campus, it will have increased participation in the coming years.

Bender and Otterbein University give special thanks to community sponsors Big Kitty Labs, EdgeThingZ, IKove Capital Partners, OhioHealth and The Wells Foundation, who helped make IdeaFest 2017 possible.


Teams and Projects

  • 1st place: Team M.E.M.E., Mental health education and awareness; Members: Jennifer McFarland ‘20, Hannah Eliades ‘20, Erica Zimmer ‘20, Madison Moore ‘20; Prize: iPad to each member and $1,000 to the team for implementation
  • 2nd place: Team Empty Pockets, creating a cafe and food bus to support the food insecure; Members: Matthew Quinn ‘15 and Jose Sanchez-Salgado ‘20; Prize: iPad to each member
  • 3rd place: The American Dream Team, transitional apartment complex for homeless in a transitional stage of their life’s journey; Members: Cam Mazzone ‘20 and Louis Marrone ‘20; Prize: Apple Watch to each member
  • 4th place: Team YGDV, Mommy Siren which reduces the time from home to hospital during labor; Members: David Vincent ‘19 and Yasmin Goncalves ‘20; Prize: Apple Watch to each member
  • 5th place: Team Nobody, mechanical solution for clean drinking water and electricity contained in a single device; Members: Jon Hinson ‘19; Prize: two LuminAID devices, one to take apart and learn how it works along with $200 toward the purchase of materials needed to investigate the product’s development.

See more photos from IdeaFest 2017 in the Otterbein Flickr gallery.

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