Trine awards innovative high school students

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 area.

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.

  • Winners and judges

    Winners and judges - Winners and judges from the 2022 Innovation Challenge high school competition.

  • Business

    Business - Litzy Munoz, left, a student at Lakeland High School in LaGrange, Indiana, and Eleanor Young, right, a student at St. Johns High School in St. Johns, Michigan, split the top prizes in the business division of Trine University’s Innovation Challenge for high school students on Feb. 9. Presenting the awards are Jason Blume, second from left, executive director of Trine innovation 1, and John Milner, assistant vice president and regional manager for Fifth Third Bank.

  • Technology winner

    Technology winner - From left, Starr Dust, a student at the Career Academy of South Bend, winner in the technology division at Trine University’s Innovation Challenge on Feb. 9, Jason Blume, executive director of Trine innovation 1, and John Milner, assistant vice president and regional manager for Fifth Third Bank.

  • Bent Be Gone

    Bent Be Gone - Career Academy of South Bend student Starr Dust presents "Bent Be Gone" for judges at Trine University's Innovation Challenge on Feb. 9. Dust won the top prize in the technology division. (Photo by Dean Orewiler)

  • Technology runner-up

    Technology runner-up - From left, Connor Wueller, a student at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Indiana, second place in the technology division at Trine University’s Innovation Challenge on Feb. 9, Jason Blume, executive director of Trine innovation 1, and John Milner, assistant vice president and regional manager for Fifth Third Bank.

  • Wueller

    Wueller - DeKalb High School student Connor Wueller presents his project, "Auto Brights," for judges at Trine University's Innovation Challenge on Feb. 9. Wueller won second place in the technology division. (Photo by Dean Orewiler)

Last Updated: 02/15/2022