Physical and art therapy businesses and an accessory to prevent damage to cell phone
charging ports and cords took the top prizes as a record number of high school students
participated in Trine University’s annual Innovation Challenge competition.
Held Feb. 9 on the Trine campus and presented by Trine innovation 1 and Fifth Third
Bank, this year’s contest included projects by 53 students.
For the first time, the business division of the contest ended in a tie, with Eleanor
Young of St. Johns High School in St. Johns, Michigan, and Litzy Munoz of Lakeland
High School in LaGrange, Indiana, each receiving a $750 prize.
Young’s business concept, “Advanced Physical Therapy for Athletes,” is an athlete-focused
holistic physical therapy clinic to be located in Northwest Michigan. Young, who plans
to attend Trine and complete a program in the university’s pre-physical therapy track,
noted that of 22 physical therapy practices in that area, only one is dedicated to
athletes, and none apply a holistic approach.
“Palate de Amor,” Munoz’ concept, is an art therapy venue in LaGrange, Indiana, designed
to benefit the mental health of its customers and help the environment by utilizing
wood, ceramics, recycled materials and pottery from Mexico. Munoz also plans to attend
Trine and major in psychology.
“Amos and Samuel Kafe,” a coffee shop concept by Luci Cook of Lakeland High School,
received honorable mention. The drive-through shop in LaGrange, Indiana, would serve
Haitian coffee, with proceeds going to fight child slavery in Haiti.
Starr Dust, a student at Career Academy of South Bend, won the $1,000 first prize
in the technology division for “Bent Be Gone,” a phone accessory that attaches to
the charge port of a cell phone and prevents the charging cord from being bent, which
can damage the cord and the port.
The $500 second prize went to Connor Wueller, a student at DeKalb High School in Waterloo,
Indiana, for “Auto Brights,” a device for older vehicles that would automatically
dim bright headlights when an oncoming vehicle approaches or when entering a well-lit
Event judges were Deb Richard, chair of Trine’s Ketner School of Business; John Milner,
assistant vice president and regional manager for Fifth Third Bank; Joshua Wenning,
Ph.D., executive director, Region 8 Educational Service Center; Mike Gorman, president,
21st Century Edtech, LLC; and David Corcoran, entrepreneur.
Trine University’s Innovation Challenge provides cash prizes to top business and technology
ideas, with awards funded by a gift from Fifth Third Bank, Greater Indiana. This year
marked the first time the high school competition was held separately from the college
and community competition.
Entries will be accepted through March 10 for the college and community event, with
finalists presenting their projects to judges on March 24.
About Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati,
Ohio. The Company has $141 billion in assets and operates 1,254 full-service Banking
Centers, including 95 Bank Mart® locations, most open seven days a week, inside select
grocery stores and 2,639 ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida,
Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. Fifth
Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer
Lending, and Investment Advisors. Fifth Third also has a 18.3% interest in Vantiv
Holding, LLC. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and,
as of December 30, 2015, had $297 billion in assets under care, of which it managed
$26 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Investor
information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. Fifth Third's common stock
is traded on the NASDAQ® Global Select Market under the symbol "FITB." Fifth Third
Bank was established in 1858. Member FDIC.