Wege Prize Winners Announced 2017

Global Student Design Competition Focused on the Circular Economy Names Winners of $30,000 in Prizes

Winning teams announced in Wege Prize 2017; 2018 competition launched

Collaborative team from Brown University, University of Michigan wins $15,000 top prize with solution to transform organic waste into  animal feed and agricultural fertilizer;  plans real-world prototype with Texas-based microbrewery

Grand Rapids, Mich. May 19, 2017  Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD’s) Wege Center for Sustainable Design has announced the winners of Wege Prize 2017, the fourth iteration of the annual design competition challenging transdisciplinary teams of college/university students from around the world to rethink and redesign the way economies work.
The five finalist teams in Wege Prize 2017 presented their solutions to a judging panel of leading practitioners and advocates of design thinking and sustainability at the 2017 Wege Prize Awards, held on May 19 at KCAD. The teams’ solutions were evaluated on factors such as depth of research, technological and financial feasibility, alignment with circular economic principles, and potential for impact.
 
Winners:
1st Place – $15,000 
Team name: Kulisha
Maya Faulstich-Hon – Environmental Science, Brown University (Undergraduate) 
Eric Katz – Business, University of Michigan Ross School of Business (Undergraduate)
Jon Luthy – Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan College of Engineering(Undergraduate)
Katie Matton – Computer Science, University of Michigan College of Engineering (Undergraduate)
Viraj Sikand – Environmental Science, Brown University (Undergraduate)
Solution:
 Kulisha developed a solution focused on working with food and beverage processing plants to convert their organic waste products into an insect-based protein that can be used in animal feeds and as an agricultural fertilizer. Their system integrates a type of insect called the black soldier fly into food and beverage plants to decrease disposal costs while creating additional value from waste that would otherwise be discarded.The team has already secured a relationship with an Austin, Texas-based microbrewery, where they’ll soon begin testing a prototype of their system in an on-site facility.
“This solution is a genuine contender to solve two problems: eliminating a major food waste problem while providing a viable alternative to the current method of depleting fish stocks to generate the protein used in animal feed,’ said judge Colin Webster, an education programme manager with UK-based nonprofit The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “It was clear to the judges that a tremendous amount of effort has been put into the development of this solution. It’s on the cusp of being trialed in a major way, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how that unfolds.”

2nd Place – $10,000
Team name: 
SOMOS
Enrique Andrade – Industrial Design, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University(Undergraduate)
Taylor Axdorff – Industrial Design, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University(Undergraduate)
Ian Culver – Collaborative Design, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University(Undergraduate)
José Sanabria Vindell – Renewable Energy Engineering, Autonomous University of Nicaragua Faculty of Science and Engineering (Undergraduate)
Alex Santiago Ramírez Cárdenas – Environmental Engineering, Autonomous University of Nicaragua Faculty of Science and Engineering (Undergraduate)

Solution:
 SOMOS developed a solution focused on helping small coffee farmers operating in Nicaragua’s Miraflor Natural Reserve halt the negative environmental impact of their production process while also taking advantage of the waste byproducts of that process to produce other raw materials which can be exported for additional revenue.
The team’s solution was informed by extensive localized research and observation. Team members from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University travelled to Nicaragua on several occasions to interview key stakeholders in Miraflor’s coffee production industry alongside their Nicaraguan teammates.
“SOMOS was succinct in both their presentation and the way they addressed our questions, and that allowed the strengths of their solution to come to the surfaces,” said judge Christopher Carter, an educator and nationally known sculptor who’s also a Next-Gen Board Member of The Wege Foundation. “What really impressed us most was the team’s on-the-ground approach; they went to the source of the problem and were deeply inspired by what they encountered. This solution could be adopted by other mountainous coffee farming regions, and that’s a great story.”

3rd Place – $5,000
Team name: 
Cheruvu

Nikhitha Rao Cheeti – Public Policy, University of Michigan Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy(Graduate) 
Aniket Deshmukh – Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Michigan College of Engineering (Graduate)
Shamitha Keerthi – Resource Ecology Management, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (Graduate)
Samhita Shiledar  – Chemical Engineering/Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan College of Engineering/School of Natural Resources and Environment (Graduate)
Kavya Vayyasi – Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (Graduate)
Solution: Using their home country of India as a case study, Cheruvu developed a solution focused on the creation of a sustainable enterprise that employs crop science, machine learning, and crowd analytics to help farmers in India increase crop yields, mitigate risk, and improve their economic standing by providing them with access to high-resolution data on best agricultural practices, soil nutrients, climate, and satellite imagery.

Like SOMOS, the members of Cheruvu developed their project largely through on-site interaction with those most affected by the problem they were trying to solve. The team, composed of five students originally from India who are currently pursuing their graduate studies at the University of Michigan, conducted extensive interviews with farmers in India who are struggling to maintain profitability, as well as other key stakeholders.

“We were really struck by the depth of the ground fieldwork undertaken by Cheruvu. The team was able to prototype their solution in a real-world context, and we were touched by how much they cared about helping small farmers compete in what is an increasingly complex and evolving industry,” said judge Gretchen Hooker, a biomimicry specialist with the Biomimicry Institute. “Moving forward we’re interested to see how their solution can help farmers reduce their dependence and chemical fertilizers and encourage them to adopt a circular model that prioritizes the ongoing health of the soil.”

The other two finalist teams—EcoReturns and Remade in China—were each honored with a $1,000 Finalist Award for earning a place in the final stage of the competition.
EcoReturns, which included undergraduate and graduate students from the University of British Columbia, Yale University, and Lund University, focused on rethinking seafood production in ways that directly address the impact on marine ecosystems while promoting community involvement and consumer engagement. The team presented an investment model that enables individual and institutional investors to support marine ecosystem restoration and the adoption of sustainable, small-scale management practices in British Columbia’s fisheries while obtaining both ecological and financial returns.
Remade in China, an all-graduate student team representing Parthenope University of Naples, Beijing Normal University, and Delft University of Technology, presented a solution focused on the development of a modeling tool that can help urban environments develop food, energy, and water systems that unite policy and technology to meet consumer needs while maximizing both the value of resources and the systems’ ability to recover and reuse them. 
Previous competitions were open exclusively to undergraduate students, but for 2017 Wege Prize was open to both undergraduate and graduate students worldwide. Teams were asked to create a solution to the following “wicked” problem: How can we create a circular economy? Each team – composed of five students and representing different academic institutions and majors of study – had to leverage its transdisciplinary makeup to collaboratively design and propose a product, service, business, non-profit organization, or other solution that could function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a circular economy.

Unlike our current linear model, in which we take, make, and dispose, a circular economic model is restorative by design and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. Using a systemic approach, teams had to not only design a compelling and innovative solution, but consider its economics and viability within natural, social, and financial systems as well.
“All of the finalist teams in Wege Prize 2017 have displayed an extraordinary amount of courage, dedication, and compassion for the future of our world, and for that we thank them,” said KCAD President Leslie Bellavance. “I challenge all of our finalists to use their experiences in this competition to continue moving forward, to expand on their existing ideas and to remain fearless in building the future.”
The five finalist teams were chosen out of an original field of 25 teams representing 38 different academic institutions from 17 countries around the world. Over the course of seven months, teams developed their ideas from a one-page proposal into a multifaceted design solution informed by their own research, ideation, and experimentation as well as direct feedback from the judges, culminating in the final presentations on May 19.
“With the inclusion of graduate students for the first time in this year’s competition, we were thrilled to see an increase in participation and geographical reach as well as many teams combining undergraduate and graduate students,” said Gayle DeBruyn, KCAD Sustainability Officer, Collaborative Design program chair and Wege Prize organizer. “As the competition grows, so too does the commitment of the teams and the strength and cogency of their ideas. As we congratulate this year’s winners, we also look forward to the incredible possibilities that lie ahead.”
 
Thanks to the continuing support of The Wege Foundation, Wege Prize 2018 will be open to any undergraduate or graduate student in the world and will again be focused on the circular economy. 
 

Team registration will open in August 2017, but those interested in participating are encouraged to begin building their teams and brainstorming ideas now by connecting with other potential participants on the Wege Prize Facebook Group. Educators and other professionals who are interested in contributing their expertise are encouraged to contact wicked@wegeprize.org for more information.

Details about Wege Prize 2018 will be revealed in the coming weeks on wegeprize.org. 

About Wege Prize:
Wege Prize, a West Michigan-born concept developed by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’ (KCAD’s) Wege Center for Sustainable Design with the support of The Wege Foundation, is a collaborative design competition that gives teams of college students the chance to work across disciplines, use design thinking principles, and contend for $30,000 in total cash prizes, all while helping to show the world what the future of problem solving looks like. The challenge is to design a product, service, or business model that can function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a circular economic model. To learn more, go to wegeprize.org. 
 
About The Wege Foundation:
Planting seeds that develop leaders in economicology, health, education, and arts, and enhance the lives of people in West Michigan and around the world. For more information, please visit wegefoundation.org.

About KCAD:
Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is committed to creating lasting impact in West Michigan and beyond through collaborative partnerships, cultural innovation, and an educational model that prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history, and art education; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally. For more information, please visit kcad.edu.

Wege Prize competition organizers are thrilled to announce the finalist teams for Wege Prize 2017!

Finalist teams named in international design competition focused on the circular economy; 
five innovative ideas will face off for $30,000 in total cash prizes
 
Wege Prize 2017 finalists will present complete solutions on May 19, 2017;
Internationally-recognized judges to evaluate and award $30k in prizes at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI
 

Grand Rapids, Mich. April 19, 2017 – Wege Prize, a uniquely transdisciplinary design competition based in West Michigan focused on rethinking and redesigning how our economy works, has selected five teams of college/university students from around the world to move on to the final stage of the fourth annual competition. Now, those efforts will culminate in a presentation to a panel of leading practitioners and advocates of design thinking and sustainability.

At the 2017 Wege Prize Awards on May 19, 2017 at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A., the five teams will present their ideas in full to the judges, who will choose a first, second, and third place winner. The top award of $15,000 will be given to the winning team, with awards of $10,000 and $5,000 going to the second-place and third-place teams, respectively.

Teams were asked to create a solution to the following “wicked” problem: How can we create a circular economy? Each team – composed of five college/university students, both undergraduate and graduate, representing different academic institutions and majors of study – had to leverage its transdisciplinary makeup to collaboratively design and propose a product, service, business, non-profit organization, or other solution that could function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a circular economy.

Unlike our current linear model, in which we take, make, and dispose, a circular economic model is restorative by design and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. Using a systemic approach, teams had to not only design a compelling and innovative solution, but consider its economics and viability within natural, social, and financial systems as well.
 
Wege Prize is organized by KCAD’s Wege Center for Sustainable Design with support from the Wege Foundation.
 
“KCAD is proud to work alongside the Wege Foundation to empower students from around the world to be bold and broad in their consideration of the world, their place in it, and the challenges we all face together,” said KCAD President Leslie Bellavance. “Wege Prize is a powerful platform for elevating discourse and inspiring action, and we commend these finalist teams and all of our competitors for their collaborative and creative spirit, their thirst for innovation, and their dedication to realizing positive and lasting change.” 

Wege Prize 2016 Finalists
 
  • Team: Cheruvu
    Schools represented: University of Michigan, College of Engineering; University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment
    Cheruvu has developed a solution focused on the creation of a sustainable enterprise that employs crop science, machine learning, and crowd analytics to help farmers in developing countries increase crop yields, mitigate risk, and improve their economic standing by providing them with access to high-resolution data on best agricultural practices, soil nutrients, climate, and satellite imagery. 
  • Team: EcoReturns
    Schools represented: Lund University (Sweden), Yale University (United States), The University of British Columbia (Canada)
    EcoReturns’ solution is focused on rethinking seafood production in ways that directly address the impact on marine ecosystems while promoting community involvement and consumer engagement. They’ve created an investment model that enables individual and institutional investors to support marine ecosystem restoration and the adoption of sustainable, small-scale management practices in British Columbia’s fisheries while obtaining both ecological and financial returns.
  • Team: Kulisha
    Schools represented: Brown University (United States), University of Michigan (United States)
    Kulisha has developed a solution focused on working with food and beverage processing plants to convert their organic waste products into an insect-based protein that can be used in animal feeds and as an agricultural fertilizer. Their system integrates a type of insect called the black soldier fly into food and beverage plants to decrease disposal costs while creating additional value from waste that would otherwise be discarded.
  • Team: Remade in China
    Schools represented: Beijing Normal University (China), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), Parenthope University of Naples (Italy)
    Remade in China’s solution is focused on the development of a modeling tool that can help urban environments develop food, energy, and water systems that unite policy and technology to meet consumer needs while maximizing both the value of resources and the systems’ ability to recover and reuse them.
  • Team: SOMOS
    Schools represented: Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (United States), National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (Nicaragua)SOMOS has developed a solution focused on helping small coffee farmers operating in Nicaragua’s Miraflor Natural Reserve halt the negative environmental impact of their production process while also taking advantage of the waste byproducts of that process to produce other raw materials that can be exported for additional revenue. 

Wege Prize 2017 began with a field of 25 teams representing 38 different academic institutions from 17 countries around the world, including, for the first time, graduate-level students. Over the last five months, teams have developed their ideas from a one-page proposal into a multifaceted design solution informed by their own research, ideation, and experimentation as well as direct feedback from the judges. Now, the five finalist teams will have two months to translate their work into a cohesive and compelling presentation.

“As part of our mission to continue growing the scope and reach of the competition, we opened Wege Prize 2017 up to include graduate students, and we’re thrilled with the diversity­—both disciplinary and geographical—of this year’s field,” shared Gayle DeBruyn, Wege Prize coordinator and Chair of KCAD’s Collaborative Design program. “We’re anticipating well-considered, fully developed solutions from our finalist teams that are both elegant and actionable.”

For the final competition on May 19, the judges will gather in Grand Rapids to converge their own unique perspectives, knowledge, and talents to determine which solution inspires the greatest hope for success. Solutions will be judged on a variety of factors relating to process, understanding of the circular economy, depth of research, effective communication, and economic and logistic feasibility.

 

Judges include:

Michael Werner – Environmental Program Manager, Google Mountain View, CA
Colin Webster – Education Programme Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation  Endinburgh, United Kingdom  
Gretchen Hooker – Biomimicry Specialist, Biomimicry Institute  Kalamazoo, MI    
Nathan Shedroff  Associate Professor, California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA
Christopher Carter – Independent educator, animator, and sculptor Miami, FL
Those interested in seeing the teams compete in person are warmly encouraged to attend the 2017 Wege Prize Awards event, which is free and open to the public. For those who cannot physically attend, an online live stream of the event will be made available on wegeprize.org. 

2017 Wege Prize Awards
 
Date: May 19, 2017
Time: 10:00am
Location: Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s Woodbridge N. Ferris building (17 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.)Event Schedule
9:30 am     doors open
10:00am – 12:30pm          finalist presentations
12:30pm – 2:00pm             judges’ deliberation/lunch break
2:00pm – 2:30pm               presentation of awards
2:30pm – 3:30pm               media/interviews

Individuals with disabilities who require special accommodations to participate should contact the KCAD President’s Office at 616.451.2787 x1150 at least 72 hours in advance.

Wege Foundation Grant Propels West Michigan-Based Student Design Competition Toward Broader Global Impact

$444,000 grant awarded to Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s Wege Center for Sustainable Design to extend Wege Prize competition for four years

2016 competition concludes May 14 – open to the public

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD’s) Wege Center for Sustainable Design has been awarded a $444,000 grant from the Wege Foundation to continue running the Wege Prize student design competition for the next four years. Open to any undergraduate student in the world, the international competition challenges transdisciplinary teams of five to design a product, service, or business model that can function within and facilitate a paradigm shift toward a circular economy, an economic model in which resources and capital are regenerative.

Through the lens of the circular economy, past Wege Prize participants have developed compelling solutions to formidable social and environmental issues such as the rising costs and environmental impact of mass food production, the harmful buildup of low-density polyurethane plastics in nature, and barriers to accessing renewable energy. Such challenges are known as “wicked” problems due to their systemic complexity and resistance to solution.

Wege Foundation CEO Mark Van Putten says Wege Prize offers a unique opportunity for students to integrate their own knowledge and perspective with that of students working in other fields and institutions to produce a meaningful impact on the world.

“Students are conscious of the environmental and economic crises facing their generation,” Van Putten says. “Wege Prize is an experience that empowers learners to collaborate in the pursuit of sustainable global development.”

Wege Prize began in 2014 as a regional competition but grew quickly, expanding to an international scale for the ongoing 2016 competition, which has drawn participation from students in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Costa Rica in addition to the United States. International students from China, Nigeria, and Kenya who are studying abroad in the U.S. are also participating.
KCAD’s Wege Center for Sustainable Design will continue to conduct Wege Prize annually through 2020 with the support of the Wege Foundation. Organizers aim to expand the scope of the competition’s growing impact over the course of the four-year grant, engaging an increasingly diverse group of international participants while continuing to nurture the cogency and viability of teams’ solutions.

“Wege Prize 2015 was our debut as a national competition, and this year it has become a worldwide endeavor,” says KCAD President Leslie Bellavance. “With this grant, we will continue to inspire innovation for transformative change in the years to come.”

The Wege Prize 2016 Awards will take place Saturday, May 14, 2016 from 9:30am – 2:30pm inside KCAD’s Woodbridge N. Ferris Building (17 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503), where the five finalist teams in this year’s competition will present their solutions in full to a judging panel of leading practitioners and advocates of design thinking and sustainability. The competition’s top award of $15,000 will be given to the winning team, with awards of $10,000 and $5,000 going to the second and third-place teams, respectively.

The Wege Prize 2016 Awards are free and open to the public. RSVP by visiting wegeprize2016.eventbrite.com.

The event will also be streamed live online at wegeprize.org starting at10 a.m. May 14.

For more information on the Wege Prize 2016 finalist teams, click here.

 

About Wege Prize:
Wege Prize, a West Michigan-born concept developed by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) with the support of The Wege Foundation, is a collaborative design competition that gives teams of college students the chance to work across disciplines, use design thinking principles, and contend for $30,000 in total cash prizes, all while helping to show the world what the future of problem solving looks like. The challenge is to design a product, service, or business model that can function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a  circular economic model. To learn more, go to wegeprize.org.

About The Wege Foundation:

The Wege Foundation focuses on local good works in the Grand Rapids metropolitan region that enhance the lives of the people and preserve the health of the environment. The five pillars of the Foundation’s mission are, in rank order: Education, Environment, Arts and Culture, Health Care, and Human Services. For more information, please visit wegefoundation.org.

About KCAD:

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is committed to creating lasting impact in West Michigan and beyond through collaborative partnerships, cultural innovation, and an educational model that prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history, and art education; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally. For more information, please visit kcad.edu.

Wege Prize 2015 – Results

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact:
Elena Tislerics
Coordinator, Wege Prize
Chief Communications Officer, Kendall College of Art and Design
elena@wegeprize.org 

$30,000 awarded in wicked problem solving competition

Winners of Wege Prize 2015 announced; 2016 international competition launched

1st place team Western Sustainers earns $15,000 for designing agricultural system that
upcycles waste and acts in symbiosis with the surrounding community

Grand Rapids, Mich. March 31, 2015 – Assembling in-person for the first time since forming teams in January, undergraduate competitors from the three transdisciplinary finalist teams in Wege Prize 2015 presented their solutions to the wicked problem of creating a circular economy. The winners were named on March 28 at the second annual Wege Prize Awards, where the teams presented their innovative solutions to five internationally-known judges, as well as public and online audiences.

This year’s competition again challenged teams of five to revolutionize the world’s linear economic models into ones which are regenerative by designing a product, service, or business model that could function within and help create a circular economy – a model in which resources can be re-adapted for use without limiting the desirability of products or the flow of revenue. Now in its second year, Wege Prize was held on a national level, and teams were again required to represent at least two different academic institutions and at least three different academic disciplines.

Winners:

wmu  1st place – $15,000
Team name:
Western Sustainers

Cara Givens, Biomedical Sciences, Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences
Elijah Lowry, Geography, Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences
Kelsey Pitschel, Mechanical Engineering, Western Michigan University College of Engineering
Max Hornick, Public Relations, Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences
Ramon Roberts-Perazza, Civil Engineering, Western Michigan University College of Engineering

Solution: Local Loop Farm – This agricultural system is designed to act in symbiosis with its surrounding community, utilizing hot composting, hydroponics, and other innovative technologies to produce fresh, healthy, local, and affordable ­fish and vegetables while upcycling waste and eliminating many of the negative impacts associated with existing food production and consumption.

“Impressive research and analysis by this team, and in speaking with them afterward we were excited to hear that plans are underway to implement their project.” – Judge Ellen Satterlee


 

2nd2nd place – $10,000
Team name: Pixelation

Alexandra Vasquez Dheming, Production Design, Savannah College of Art and Design
Karla Ronaszegi, Industrial Design, Savannah College of Art and Design
Lynae Brooks, Architecture, Savannah College of Art and Design
Ryan Parrish, Industrial Design, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University
Taina Fuzaro Bercho, Industrial Design, Savannah College of Art and Design

Solution: No Waste Delivery (NOW) – this food delivery service is designed to change the food consumption and purchasing norms of the urban office worker by reducing packaging waste, food waste, and delivery service fuel emissions.

“We really appreciated the research that Pixelation did in terms of what solutions already exist, both in the US and abroad, and that they attempted to establish circular flows of resources where existing food delivery services hadn’t.” – Judge Gretchen Hooker


 

3rd3rd place – $5,000
Team name:
The Originals

Christa Iscoa, Architecture, Savannah College of Art and Design
John Worthley, Energy Engineering, Penn State University
Laryssa Tertuliano, Industrial Design, Savannah College of Art and Design
Marina Busato, Industrial Design, Savannah College of Art and Design
Philip Han, Collaborative Design, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University

Solution: Organikos – this service, which combines an energy efficient in-home composting appliance with a user experience-driven web platform, is designed to remove the barriers that make composting difficult and inaccessible.

What impressed us the most about The Original’s solution was that it didn’t attempt to do everything on it’s own, but rather identified possible collaborations with existing services that could help it succeed. That kind of systemic thinking is exactly what students should be engaging in.” – Judge Nathan Shedroff

Evaluating each team on factors such as research, innovation, and feasibility, judge Colin Webster remarked, “We were all impressed by the enormous amount of time, energy, and research the teams put into their projects, but Western Sustainers’ depth of research and systemic understanding of the solution they’d designed was what ultimately set them apart,” said Colin Webster, Wege Prize judge and Education Programme Manager with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK-based organization that’s a global leader in circular economic thought, education, and development. “In all the teams, there was a real willingness to collaborate and engage with very complex concepts and ideas, and most importantly, each showed a desire to improve their solutions beyond this competition and to continue to refine their understanding of the circular economy.”

Judges:
Colin Webster
– Education Programme Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Michael Werner – Green Chemistry and Restricted Substances Manager, Apple Inc.
Gretchen Hooker – Biomimicry Specialist, Biomimicry Institute
Nathan Shedroff – Program Chair, MBA in Design Strategy, California College of the Arts
Ellen Satterlee – CEO, Wege Foundation

Wege Prize 2016 Goes International, Starts Now

All five judges will return for Wege Prize 2016, which is moving to an international level. Next year’s competition will be open to undergraduate students anywhere in the world. Those interested in participating are encouraged to begin networking and connecting with possible mentors and teammates now. More information about Wege Prize 2016 will be revealed in the coming weeks on wegeprize.org.

“We want to thank our esteemed judges and all of the brave, bold, and passionate students who rose to this year’s challenge, and we look forward to the new connections, collaborations, and ideas that will emerge as we transition to an international level,” said Wege Prize organizer Gayle DeBruyn. “The sooner students begin making connections, finding mentors, and brainstorming possible solutions, the better, because Wege Prize 2016 starts right now.”

About Wege Prize:

Wege Prize, a West Michigan-born concept and collaboration between Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) and The Wege Foundation, is a collaborative design competition that gives teams of college students the chance to work across disciplines, use design thinking principles, and contend for $30,000 in total cash prizes, all while helping to show the world what the future of problem solving looks like. The challenge is to design a product, service, or business model that can function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a circular economic model. To learn more, go to wegeprize.org.

About The Wege Foundation:

The Wege Foundation focuses on local good works that enhance the lives of the people and preserve the health of the environment. The five branches of our Mission are, in rank order: Education, Environment, Arts and Culture, Health Care, and Human Services. For more information, please visit wegefoundation.com.

About KCAD:

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is committed to creating lasting impact in West Michigan and beyond through collaborative partnerships, cultural innovation, and an educational model that develops the talent of individuals into a force for intellectual growth, individual creativity, and community engagement. For more information, please visit kcad.edu.

 

WMU student team wins national Wege sustainability prize

Signature-Stacked-chenille
by Cheryl Roland

Click here to read article  on WMU’s website

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A team of five Western Michigan University students has won the 2015 Wege Prize, besting teams from around the nation in the eyes of an international panel of judges whose task was to assess the teams’ ability to use design principles to tackle sustainability problems.

The WMU team captured first place and a $15,000 award March 28 in an event the Grand Rapids-based Wege Foundation calls a “gathering of the brightest collegiate minds in America to solve a truly wicked problem.” The second annual transdisciplinary design contest asked teams of five to work collaboratively across institutional and disciplinary boundaries to create a circular economy—a tightly looped, restorative economic cycle where resources can be re-adapted for use without limiting the desirability of products or the loss of revenue.

WMU’s team competed under the name Western Sustainers.

The WMU team

  • Max Hornick, public relations major from Kalamazoo.
  • Ramon Roberts-Perazza, a civil engineering major from Detroit.
  • Kelsey Pitschel, a mechanical engineering major from Hartland.
  • Elijah Lowry, a geography and environmental and sustainability studies major from Dearborn.
  • Cara Givens, a biomedical science major from Detroit.

The WMU team designed The Local Loop Farm, an agricultural system that exists symbiotically with the surrounding community, using complementary systems to increase economic, environmental and biological effectiveness. Building on research done by WMU’s Office of Sustainability, the team used current technology for its design, including hydroponic grow beds, fish cultivation and hot composting. The increased efficiencies achieved allow for the production of fresh, healthy fish and vegetables that are affordable to the community and eliminate many of the negative effects associated with current food production and consumption.

The Western Sustainers were advised by two recent WMU grads Kyle Simpson from Novi andCarlos Daniels from Detroit, as well as Josh Shultz, who is the permaculture coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. The WMU team’s design presentation can be viewed atwegeprize.org/western-sustainers.

About the competition

The 2015 competition featured 13 teams of five students, representing a total of 12 different colleges and universities and 45 academic disciplines. Five international sustainability and design professionals returned as judges. In addition to WMU, participating colleges and universities included: Alma College, George Washington University, University of California Berkeley, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University (four teams), Kendall School of Art and Design, Hope College, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Savannah College of Art and Design and Pennsylvania State University.

Second place went to a team from Kendall and Savannah College. Third place was awarded to a team made up of students from Savannah College, Kendall and Penn State.

Judges for the competition were:

  • Colin Webster, education programme manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Endinburgh, United Kingdom.
  • Gretchen Hooker, biomimicry specialist with Kalamazoo’s Biomimicry Institute.
  • Nathan Shedroff, program chair for MBA programs at the California College of Arts.
  • Ellen Satterlee, executive director of the Wege Foundation.
  • Michael Werner, green chemistry and restricted substances manger for Apple.

The Wege Foundation focuses on local good works that enhance the lives of people and preserve the health of the environment. The five branches of its mission are education, environment, arts and culture, health care and human services.

For more information, visit wegefoundation.com.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.

Pictured above:
Front row: Elijah Lowry, Max Hornick, Kelsey Pitschel, Carlos Daniels. Back row: Kyle Simpson, Ramon Roberts-Perazza, Josh Shultz.

Students Tackle a ‘Wicked Problem’ for $30,000

Consider what these things have in common.  A vegetable garden in every living room; potato-made plastic bags; a hands-on cradle-to-cradle learning center in the now vacant Grand Rapids Public Museum.  If you said whiz-kids’ solutions for creating a circular economy, a gold star for you.  Another star if you know that in order to “save our planet,” as Peter Wege phrased it four decades ago, we must build a circular economy.

What Wege addressed by starting The Wege Foundation was the hard fact that we are depleting Earth’s finite natural resources at an unsustainable rate. In short, we are using up what we can’t replace.  Herein lies the wicked problem.  Enter the Wege Prize, a competition for West Michigan college students to come up with the best ideas to help jump-start a circular, cradle-to-cradle economy.

(First place team – FusionGRow)

Run by the Kendall College of Art and Design, the rules were simple and reflected two of Peter Wege’s driving principles. The first is economicology.  Wege coined the word to mean balancing the needs of the ecology with those of the economy by requiring contestants to represent at least two different academic disciplines. Second, collaboration: students had to come from at least two different colleges.

Six teams competed and March 3 the judges heard presentations by the three finalists and chose the winners.  Team FUSIONGROW members shared the top $15,000 prize with their plan to make hydroponic stands for growing vegetables indoors using recyclable aluminum in an attractive, sculptural design.

The Wicked Solutions team members won the second-place $10,000 prize for their idea to make plastic grocery bags out of PLA, a plant starch found in potato wash, charging a small deposit to ensure return and recycling.  Wicked Solutions also took home $5,000 for winning the on-line Public Vote.

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First place team FusionGRow (left to right) Jacob Czarniecki (General Business, GVSU), Aziza Ahmadi (Public Administration and Sustainability, GVSU), Philip Han (Collaborative Design, KCAD), Yulia Conley (Applied Economics and Urban Planning, GVSU), and Eric Choike (Industrial Design, KCAD)
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Second Place team is Wicked Solutions Inc (left to right) Justin Burton (Industrial Design, KCAD), Evelyn Ritter (Mechanical Engineering, Hope College, Matthew Johnson (Industrial Design, Kendall College of Art and Design, and Kristina Raiz (Sustainable Business, Aquinas College)
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Wege Prize Judges (left to right) Michael Werner (Sustainability Strategist, Haworth Inc.), Gretchen Hooker (Biomimicry Specialist, Biomimicry 3.8 Institute), Colin Webster (Education Programme Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Ellen Satterlee (CEO, Wege Foundation), and Nathan Shedroff (MBA Program Chair, California College of the Arts)

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Photos courtesy of Kendall’s Matt Gubancsik