Public can review, 'invest in' student innovations at event

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of a student explaining a project to a group of people.

Innovation Day is free and open to the public.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A Friday, Dec. 5, Innovation Day celebration at Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences will allow the public to review new product innovations by students from grades K-12 through graduate school.

The atrium of the college's engineering building on the Parkview campus will be the site of the 2014 Innovation Day celebration from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Now in its seventh year, the event also is part of "Spark Design Week" in Kalamazoo, which will focus on design input events featuring professional design developments from some of West Michigan's leading private sector firms. For information about additional design events, visit

Innovation Day

During Innovation Day, entrepreneurial students from across WMU, including students enrolled in Entrepreneurial Engineering II and Engineering Design courses, as well as those working through the Starting Gate business incubator and a number of K-12 students, will be presenting their prototypes or models for new products and businesses to the public.

The public, in turn, will help assess the students' products and provide valuable input, according to Dr. Steven E. Butt, professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management.

"The assessment will involve listening to the student pitches and investing 'Innovation Dollars'" Butt says. "Those attending will be given 'I-Dollars' when they arrive and can 'invest' those dollars in the products they believe are most innovative.

Participating students, Butt says, have developed prototypes or models that fulfill one of several requirements.

Development requirements

  • A toy that which has a very clear educational component.
  • An entrepreneurial concept the students are working to commercialize.
  • A product useful to people living in an emerging/developing economy.
  • A product which can help save lives in turbulent weather, natural or man-induced disasters.
  • A product which campers, trekkers, or outdoors people would find useful.
  • A product useful to police, fire departments or emergency service organizations.
  • A product which has a significant benefit to a group to which the developers are very familiar.

Butt estimates it would take 30-45 minutes to review all of the products and hear student pitches on several of them. While walk-ins are welcome, organizers are asking people to reserve a spot if they know they can attend. To do so, contact

The winning student team, Butt says, will have an opportunity to showcase its innovation alongside professionals during the closing event of Spark Design Week. That event, a Creative Crash Product Showcase, will take place at 4:30 p.m. Friday, just before Kalamazoo's December Art Hop at Rhino Media Crash Space, 344 North Rose St.

For more news, arts and events, visit