Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old high school student from Saratoga, Calif., just may have solved the cellphone charge challenge. Her energy-storing device, a supercapacitor, fully charges in under 30 seconds. In the future, cell phones could house the device.
“It is also flexible, so it can be used in rollup displays and clothing and fabric,” Khare told John Roach of NBC News. “It has a lot of different applications and advantages over batteries in that sense.”
She was awarded $50,000 for her invention at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz. However, she wasn’t even the top winner. That $75,000 prize went to Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania for creating an affordable model for a driverless car.
More than 1,600 students competed in this year’s science fair, which honors the “world’s most promising, rising student entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists.”
“All the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalists here this week show great promise in harnessing the power of science and innovation to solve problems and create opportunity for our global community,” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science and the Public, in a press release.
It’s great that students are solving science’s challenges. I wonder if students could solve some the most pressing problems in the meetings and events industry, too.
I read articles and see tweets everyday on how to better plan meetings, whether in design or content or hybrid…whatever the flavor of the month is. And there are a lot of great ideas offered by industry veterans. Over time, though, those ideas get lost in an echo chamber and nothing ever gets done (seriously, I can’t believe no one has figured out the great ROI problem!).
Let’s make it rewarding to students to help fix our challenges. Rather than just scholarships and discounted memberships, let’s give them a meaty reason to get involved in associations and the industry. Forget writing essays; let them get their hands dirty.
Take the two largest meeting professional associations for an example. MPI (reader note: I work for MPI) and PCMA should come together, pool their foundations’ resources, and offer a prize for industry innovation to students. Offer less membership and event scholarships, and tie those funds to winning industry inventions. Student clubs could host their own fairs, with the winners moving on to regional and then international competitions. Industry veterans could judge the final results.
Hackathons are a good start, and I applaud the effort behind those. However, let’s expand the scope to more than technology. For example, maybe a student can invent a new way to get people excited about strategic meetings management. Perhaps a student can create a better event evaluation form. Or maybe a student will figure out a way to budget an event where everyone gets paid, including session speakers.
I see these science fairs and I think, why not our industry? Either we do something drastically different or we talk ourselves to death. Lately, it’s been looking more like the latter than the former.
– By Jason Hensel
(Image via Flickr: Phil Roeder/Creative Commons)