CoLab Scrum

Walla Walla University hosts first annual design and innovation event

In February, Walla Walla University hosted its first annual Collaborative Innovation Laboratory, or “CoLab Scrum.” The CoLab Scrum was a design and innovation event where student teams representing a variety of majors presented new, marketable, and patentable ideas. The event spanned two days. During the first day, students presented their prototypes and ideas to a panel of judges that decided which ideas would move forward in the competition. Students then had 24 hours to incorporate feedback from the judges before competing against the other teams.

The CoLab Scrum was a collaborative effort of the Department of Technology, the School of Engineering, the School of Business, and the Department of Computer Science. Nine faculty members from these departments helped plan the event.

“When Pablo Wenceslao was hired in the Department of Technology, he and I often chatted about his experience in starting up an ‘innovation incubator’ of sorts at his previous place of employment,” says Linda Felipez, professor of technology and one of the organizers of the event. “As he got to know people on campus here, we discovered a common thread of this ‘innovation incubator’ idea happening simultaneously in other departments as well.”

The panel of four judges was comprised of community members and WWU faculty with work experience and degrees in communications, journalism, fine art, physics, engineering, and business, and experience working with startups in Silicon Valley and with Fortune 500 companies.

“It was exciting to be at the beginning of multiple business ventures,” said Brian Hartman, assistant professor of education and Scrum judge. “The energy was high, and the expectation was that at least one of these ideas would eventually be made into a real business.”

Four of the five ideas presented on the first night of the Scrum made it through to the second night. These four ideas included a child-friendly stethoscope that encourages more child-healthcare-provider interaction; a cost-effective, high-quality 3-D printer; a hot glue gun with a more efficient heating component; and a nonprofit organization that provides tea-leaf pickers with better backpack devices for collecting leaves.

Austin Nordman, senior mechanical engineering major, presented a completed prototype of the 3-D printer that he designed for his senior project. “One reason I attended the event was to get help with the business aspect of my project,” says Nordman. “Overall, the event was worthwhile, and I enjoyed working with my team. The event definitely helped me hone my public speaking skills and ability to work with a team.”

Three of the four ideas that made it to the second day of the Scrum were chosen to move forward to the follow-up entrepreneurial event to be held during spring quarter, which will be a more focused entrepreneurial workshop hosted by the School of Business.

Felipez would like to see the Scrum become an annual event. “We hope to eventually attract investors and industry members,” she says. “We’d also like to develop relationships with sponsors and investors to help fund project development.”

She says that the heart of this event is to instill in its participants “the creative hope of realizing a design dream, a collaborative spirit, critique for improvement of their projects, and the desire for more of the same.”

Posted May 15, 2017

Austin Nordman, senior mechanical engineering major, presents his completed prototype of the 3D printer that he designed for his senior project.