Celebrate students' creative sparks at innovation showcase

The IGNITE Innovation Showcase next week will give some of Iowa State's most inventive students an opportunity to show how they're making their mark in a variety of ways. 

Each day of the second annual celebration of student innovation is organized around a theme and features keynote speakers in the evening, sessions throughout the day often focused on specific colleges and the final judging for student challenge competitions. More than 200 students will be participating in a challenge, with nearly $100,000 in prizes on the line over the week.

The showcase is designed to drive and elevate talented student innovators compelled by their sense of social and professional responsibility to address pressing challenges facing the world, said Karen Kerns, director of innovation programs at the Student Innovation Center.

"These students have reimagined and re-created themselves as changemakers, consultants, intrapreneurs, researchers, entrepreneurs and industry agents of advancement. They recognize that they can broker resources, relationships and opportunities to accelerate their progress and scale the impact of what they contribute," said Kerns, who organizes the showcase.

Most of the sessions are in the Student Innovation Center (SICTR). Registration is requested for the keynotes, which are open to everyone and feature an awards ceremony followed by a reception. The keynotes will be livestreamed.

Here's what faculty and staff may enjoy in each day's schedule:

Monday (theme: Change the World)


  • Expanding Our Narrative, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 4250 SICTR
    A University Library-led panel discussion on the importance of elevating voices and experiences of marginalized communities.
  • Snapshot Stories in Arts and Sciences, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., 2106 SICTR
    Students, faculty and staff in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) will share their innovation and entrepreneurship in 20 slides, with 20 seconds to talk about each slide. Heavy appetizers will be served and registration is required.
  • Design for Social Change: Civic Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement, 3-4:30 p.m., 2260 SICTR
    Students in the College of Design's interdisciplinary option studios are exhibiting their work, emphasizes civic and social innovation. College of Design dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez will give remarks at 3:30 p.m. The exhibition is open all week.

Challenge competition:

  • Change the World, 2:30-4 p.m., 4250 SICTR
    Student teams propose solutions for addressing social and civic issues, vying for $10,000 in prizes.

Keynote speakers (0114 SICTR and via livestream):

  • Trent Preszler, CEO of Bedell Cellars and author of "Little and Often," 5:20 p.m.
  • Louis Carr, president of media sales at BET, 6:05 p.m.

Tuesday (theme: Move the World)


  • CYstarters, noon-1 p.m., SICTR step-a-torium
    Meet the newest class in the Pappajohn Center's summer accelerator program that pays students to work on their business ideas.
  • Plant the Moon, 12:30-1:15 p.m., 1133 SICTR
    This STEM learning opportunity challenges students in grades 4-12 to grow crops in conditions that simulate lunar or Martian conditions. 
  • Innovation in Engineering, 2-5 p.m., SICTR step-a-torium
    College of Engineering students will present capstone innovation projects. 
  • LAS Start Something I+E Academy, 4-5 p.m., SICTR second floor
    Students will share the projects developed in the first year of the LAS innovation and entrepreneurship program. Showcase also runs at the same time Wednesday.

Challenge competitions:

  • Move the World, 1:30-3 p.m., 4250 SICTR
    Students propose innovations in transportation, tourism, supply chain, digital tools and related resources, vying for $5,000 in prizes.
  • Retail Reinvention, 6-8 p.m., 4250 SICTR
    Students propose new strategies for Mindy Bergstrom's three downtown Ames businesses (Nook & Nest, Cooks' Emporium and Z.W. Mercantile), vying for $5,000 in prizes.

Keynote speakers (0114 SICTR and via livestream):

  • Panel discussion at 5:10 p.m. with Hudson Harr (CEO and founder of SkyCurrent), Dennis Muilenburg (president and CEO, DAM CyFly Consulting), Robert Piconi (CEO and co-founder, Energy Vault), Anthony Sardella (vice chairman and founder, evolve24) and Paul Willard (partner, Grep VC), with speech by Piconi at 6 p.m.

Wednesday (theme: Make to Innovate)


  • Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., various locations
    More than 200 students will present the results of their research in rolling presentations in SICTR rooms 1118, 1133, 3121A, 3237, 4227, 4237, 4201 and 4250. At a ceremony at 8 a.m. in the step-a-torium, two $750 awards will be given out to student researchers.  
  • Conversation with the dean on civic innovation, 3-5 p.m., 0101 Design
    Students and faculty will join Rico-Gutierrez for a discussion about how the college’s civic innovation agenda can be implemented in the classroom and curriculums.

Challenge competition:

  • Make to Innovate Lab of the Future, 2-4 p.m., 0625 Howe Hall
    Students propose an ideal space for the aerospace engineering department's Make to Innovate project-based learning program, vying for $10,000 in prizes.

Keynote speakers (0114 SICTR and via livestream):

  • Panel discussion at 5:10 p.m. with Mohammed Alabsi (senior VP of technology, Bukalapak), Narayan Devanathan (chief client officer for India, Dentsu International) and Gopichand Katragadda (founder and CEO, Myelin Foundry, and author of "S.M.A.S.H Innovation"), with speech by Katragadda at 6:05 p.m.

Thursday (theme: Feed the World)


  • CHS entrepreneurship and innovation, 5-8:30 p.m., fourth floor SICTR
    College of Human Sciences students pitch their business proposals and consulting projects to external judges at SPARKS café and in rooms 4201, 4227, 4229, 4237 and 4250.

Challenge competitions:

  • Food Fusion, noon-6 p.m., 3238 SICTR (culinary creation lab)
    Student teams create recipes fusing at least two cultures' cuisines, vying for $10,000 in prizes.
  • Student Innovation Fund, 1-4 p.m., 1118 SICTR
    This fund is for seed stage concepts that can be delivered by student teams within a year. Judges will distribute $20,000 among several student teams. From 3-4 p.m., four winning teams from last year will present their results.
  • Food (In)security, 2:30-5 p.m., 3121A SICTR
    Teams of high school students propose solutions for local issues related to food insecurity, vying for $3,000 in prizes.
  • Feed the World, 2:30-4:30 p.m., 1133 SICTR
    Interdisciplinary student and faculty teams will propose ways to better produce or distribute healthy food, improve food technologies or secure food sources. Winning team will receive $10,000 to devote to the project over the next year, and students will receive $1,000 stipends and three academic credits to develop their proposal.

Keynote speakers (0114 SICTR and via livestream):

  • Collin Hurd, business development manager of Raven Autonomy and co-director of ISU Ag Startup Engine, 5:05 p.m.
  • Oshoke Abalu, architect, futurist and co-founder of Love and Magic Company, 5:35 p.m.
  • Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative extension specialist, animal genomics and biotechnology laboratory, University of California, Davis, 6:05 p.m.

Friday (theme: Innovation Awards Day)

Challenge competition:

  • Music Challenge, 11 a.m.-2:15 p.m., 4250 SICTR
    Student teams will present the musical instrument they invented or reimagined and will perform the song they composed for their instrument, vying for $10,000 in prizes. 

Keynote speaker (2055 Hoover Hall and via livestream):

  • Tan Le, founder and CEO of EMOTIV, 3:05 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony recognizing student innovation fellows, faculty innovators and others.