Future Innovators Try Their Hand at Pitching Prototypes
Other ideas included using the “plarn” to make rings, necklaces and even clothing.
Making learning accessible
The goal behind Madison’s education app, Intelligenci, was to offer better learning opportunities for children and learning options for adults trying to figure out their passions. The junior said she also envisions using the app to provide educational opportunities for those with disabilities and for those dealing with discrimination.
“We want good education for everyone. We want good lives for everyone. That’s what we so desperately want,” Madison said. “That’s why education is so important. Small steps can make a big impact.”
Janier, Autumn, Vanessa and Yandiel, all juniors, also wanted to expand educational opportunities, so they chose music. Why? Because everyone can connect with music in some way, they said.
The group’s goal was to provide equal, global access to music lessons by allowing young students to schedule affordable on-line lessons. During her team’s pitch, Autumn said she had always wanted to take piano lessons but couldn’t afford it, so she managed to teach herself.
“People have talents that need to be awakened and are sometimes too afraid to show it,” she said.
Breakfast on the go
Building 21 Juniors Alex, Jalius, Omar and Jose came up with a mobile way to tackle the issue of hunger: the backpack toaster.
The concept had its challenges like finding the right power source for a toaster you carry on your back and early test runs that melted part of the prototype.
As complicated as the design may have been, the goal was simply to help find a way to address hunger, whether giving school children a way to eat breakfast at school or using it in some capacity to help feed the homeless.
Erin Allen, associate category manager in central procurement at Olympus, is a member of the Emerging Professionals CAN who helps organize the mentorship program. She was involved in starting the program in 2021 during the COVID pandemic and has led the program with Amanda Kaschak, compliance business partner manager, and Karlynn Miller, project manager, transformation & operational excellence, governance and controls. Brittany Pierzga, CSR associate program manager, joined as a program lead this year.
Along with fostering community engagement, the program offers students an opportunity to gain real-world insight into possible career paths and hopefully garner some inspiration from professionals sharing their experiences and expertise, Allen said.
“The Building 21 program is not just about teaching high school students about Olympus, career pathways, or product development,” she said. “It's about building bridges between education and industry, fostering community collaboration and empowering the next generation of the workforce.”
A winning effort
The efforts of the Emerging Professionals CAN also scored a win in the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley’s Volunteer Challenge. The Volunteer Challenge mobilizes corporate teams aligned with local nonprofits to complete sustainable projects. The goal was to highlight the initiatives and raise money for the Volunteer Center which has served the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities for more than 35 years.
Each challenge team and nonprofit designed a tabletop display highlighting their project that was presented in a career-fair-style event to showcase the projects for the Volunteer Center’s board and community leaders. In the weeks leading up to the event, each challenge team raised money for the Volunteer Center which equaled votes towards the projects, and the Emerging Professionals CAN came out on top.