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Thursday, 31 October 2013 11:16

MHC’s Innovate Tournament turns into a bigger deal for People’s Choice winners

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Sometimes a school project has unexpected results which no one can predict.


Such was the case for the Medicine Hat College’s Innovate Tournament that was launched Sept. 27. Awards were handed out in mid-October at a celebration and networking event. It was the third such competition.
Open to Medicine Hat College students in the entrepreneurial experience course, business administration, administrative office professional program as well as Eagle Butte High School’s Entrepreneur Club.
The aim of the competition is that teams are given an everyday household object and asked to use it in innovative ways to create value for people, the environment and economy. A dozen entries were viewed.
Teams were asked to turn a plastic bag into an innovative item, showcasing their ideas in three-minute videos. The videos were seen by an audience and judges which included Heather Martin, business development manager from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYFB); Les and Dawn Postnikoff, owners of Paradise Valley Golf Course; and Jon Sookocheff, manager of the Entrepreneur Development Centre.
A team of administrative office professional students: Michael Strong, Brandon Pitkanen, Nicole Fewer (girl) and Michele Dillman won second place in the event, but more importantly were the People’s Choice Award winners. They called themselves Team U-Innovate.
Strong says it was an interesting process to determine the order of  importance of environmental, social, economic and even the manufacturing components to a product. They decided to focus on the social aspect and once they did that, an idea to create a bracelet for cancer awareness followed. At first, they were going to do something for the homeless, but then this awareness campaign was decided upon.
“We wanted to do something to make a difference,” explains Pitkanen.
Pitkanen, Fewer and Dillman had worked together before on a project and were familiar with each other. They were all excited to produce the video.
With Alberta band Nickleback’s song We Will Stand Together playing in the background, U-Innovate’s video reads, “What if life on our planet was threatened and what if there was something you could do? Our world needs awareness.”
They also point out plastic bags make up 90 per cent of the debris found in the world’s oceans.
“Between nine to 15 billion plastic bags are consumed by Canadians each year.”
In the video, Team U-Innovate also parlays info onbreast cancer statistics and then combined the two themes by demonstrating how they made bracelets out of plastic bags which were donated by the clothing store Ardene’s. The clothing store’s bags are pink which of course ties in well with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s pink awareness campaign held in October.
A table was quickly set up and without a lot of fanfare they sold the bracelets with all proceeds, totalling $540, forwarded to the local office of the Canadian Cancer Society. Much to the team members’ surprise, there were at times lineups for the wrist bands.
Their video concludes with people modelling their unique wrist bands which had been smartly packaged.
“We made 163 of them and they sold out in the first two hours,” explains Pitkanen. “Students and staff were lined up for these things. It really created a sense of community. It did surprise me (how well they went over).”
Word got out about the group’s efforts and the local cancer society office put in an order for more. Those who work with colon cancer have expressed interest in the bands and want the group to create more for them.
The quartet had to work through some disagreements and Dillman says there was a lot of trial and error, but in the end, they were able to take what they’ve learned from their college classes to put together a winning project.
“I enjoyed getting their input,” explains Fewer of her teammates. “Each of us had their voices heard and I’m really proud of what we had done.”
For Strong, it was a special event.
“It started out as a competition and it had nothing to do with the prizes, but I wanted to win,” he explains adding, he is still wearing his bracelet to show support for breast cancer month. “I’m not going to lie, I still think it was (the video) number one, but what we accomplished was very special. Words just don’t do justice to what I feel.”
First place for the competition was Team EcoWallet which consisted of business administration students Michael Eisenlohr, MacKenzie Ellingson, Ashley Miller and Darcy Schneider. Third place was Team Optimistic consisting of business administration students Rupindeerjeet Sran, Pawanjeet Ratol, Baljinder Singh and Gurmehar Sukheeja.
Winners received prizes and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation donated a total of $1,000.
Team U-Innovate also earned gift cards from Cheesecake Café. Prizes included $600 to the first place winner, $300 for second and $100 for third.

Read 2525 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 October 2013 14:48
Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor