Innovation Weekend

College of Science and Mathematics

April 2018 Innovation Weekend: Recap Video

April 12-14, 2019
Student Success Center Room 207

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About the Event

Join us for a weekend intensive innovation event (“Hackathon”) to address a long-standing problem of significance in both the military and public sectors. You will work with other students from varied backgrounds to push the solutions as far as you can in the weekend timeframe and will pitch your ideas to regional experts on the problem.


 The topic for this event is "Plastic Contamination of Oceans and Waterways"


Plastic contamination of the oceans and open waterways is a global crisis.  Estimates range from 8-12 million metric tons of plastic waste entering the oceans each year, and that number is continuing to rise annually.  Indeed, by 2050, it has been estimated that the mass of all the plastic waste in the oceans will surpass the total biomass of these bodies of water.  If left unabated, the problem will continue to grow for much of this century, with a myriad of effects on humans and all of the organisms that call the oceans and other open waters home.  We need to quickly identify ways to clean up existing waste, prevent additional plastics from entering the environment, and come up with safe disposal methods for existing plastic debris and recovered waste.

Students will work in groups to identify potential solutions to this problem and design strategies forward. The event will be supervised by representatives from the university, and not-for-profit agencies. We are looking for students from across campus with an interest in design, application, and marketing to identify better ways to solve one or more of the above.

Although the primary focus may be on military applications, recognize that groups interested in targeting natural (or man-made) disasters or accident situations can work on applications in those arenas–or even propose new applications not previously considered!

Come with a group of colleagues, or come alone. We want to engage you in innovative thought processes, discussions of cutting-edge technology, and the need for entrepreneurial approaches to solving real-world problems.


The Innovation Weekend Events are held in the Student Success Center (second floor) unless alternate locations are announced in advance. Much of the time will be spent in an active learning classroom where you will be able to access the technology in the room and brainstorm solutions. Mentors and experts will circulate to answer questions, and we may even take a field trip to see situation mock-ups.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does this event cost?

    The event is free.

  • Will food be provided?

    We will provide lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and refreshments at a variety of other times: morning coffee and donuts, snack/beverage breaks throughout the day, and refreshments for end-of-day receptions with the participants and moderators/judges.

  • Do I have to be a CoSM major?

    No, the event is open to everyone. In fact, we WANT students from across campus to participate – see later for a description of the types of skill sets that are targeted (but ALL are welcome).

  • What if I can’t attend all of the sessions? Can I still participate?

    We want students to attend as much as possible, but mostly, we want you involved. Thus, if there are periods of time over the weekend that you cannot attend, come for what you can and work with your teammates to catch up on what you missed.

  • Does our team have to stay for the entire time of each session?

    As implied above, we have designed the event to maximize the time needed to engage with our content experts. However, if you complete a task early, or simply have to take care of other business away from the event, you are welcome to come and go.  

  • Can we create our own teams before the event?

    Sure. However, you may decide to rearrange the team once the full details of the project are described – and we have built in time to do just that.  Also, we will cap the teams at 6 members, so keep this in mind.

  • What if I don’t have a team in advance?

    Please Come! We will be starting the program with a process that will help match you with a team that needs your skills!

  • What areas of study are particularly well-suited for this event?

    The event focuses on problems related to the environment, manufacturing, technical innovation, data analytics, computer science, policy changes or waste management and logistics. This is very broad, and so studies in nearly any field that involves making sense of information and solving problems or helping people would be applicable. If you think it sounds interesting, come out and see how it works.

  • What will I get out of this event?

    We hope you get a lot out of it, but at the very least it is a chance to meet people solving real-world problems at various levels (military, the private sector, non-profit, academia, medical sciences, data sciences) and to learn those skills in an interactive, team-based environment. We hope you also make some connections, expand your resume, and maybe even network career or internship opportunities. Although we cannot promise this every event, we feel that some teams may actually identify solutions that they wish to pursue beyond the event itself, perhaps in subsequent entrepreneurial pitch competitions or even in the development of a solution with intellectual property potential. In other words, this event might just be a beginning. 

  • What are the prizes?

    That will have to remain a secret until the pitch competition. We hope that the winners will consider the process “worth it."

  • I am a graduate student: Can I participate?

    YES! We have decided to open the event to both undergraduate and graduate students. Note that we will work to ensure that student groups include a mix of undergraduates and graduate students so that the event is fair to all, but the diversity of the student population provides a richer experience for all involved.


The primary sponsors for this event are Drs.Thomas D. and Jacquelyn Reed and it will be hosted by the College of Science and Mathematics.

In the News

About the Innovation Weekend Events in CoSM

This series of weekend-long events will allow students from CoSM and other disciplines across campus with interests in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship to work in teams to address technologically-demanding, market-driven problems proposed by one or more collaborators from the private sector or government agencies.  These “innovation sessions” will culminate with teams making group presentations on their solutions and event moderators selecting winning ideas.  Winning team members will receive a prize and, in some cases, enhanced access to opportunities to work with the external companies or agencies on future research internships or on pushing their ideas toward fruition.

This program will allow students to get exposure to real-world problem-solving skills will prepare students for programmatic success and appreciation of regional workforce needs. It will also be an opportunity to connect with industry or government partners and will enhance access to research internships and/or employment opportunities post-graduation.