Wednesday night brought students, faculty and friends to Smothers Theatre for the first annual Waves of Innovation Talks. With 158 applications submitted, eight semi-finalists were selected by the Waves of Innovation Committee to present their ideas in hopes of gaining funding for their projects. The semi-finalists were given $5,000 in preparation for the talks.
Waves of Innovation Chairman Lee Kats spoke of the “enthusiastic response” to the event, and this energy remained as the night unfolded. The Waves of Innovation Committee, a group of 11 individuals Kats selected, evaluated the semi-finalists. “There’s not a lot of qualitative difference between [the finalists],” said President Andrew K. Benton, as each idea met the WIT requirements.
Representing the Graduate School of Education and Psychology was committee member Linda Polin, who said the night held “some really great ideas.”Working in conjunction with the committee, President Andrew K. Benton aided in the final funding decisions, amounting to approximately $450,000, to be distributed to five finalists.
Benton said he was hopeful for the future of Waves of Innovation as an annual event. The initiative sparked a variety of ideas, from Professor Joe Fritsch’s creation of biodegradable plastics to Seaver College freshmen SueJie Oh and Jennifer Escoto’s idea to enact a mentorship program between Pepperdine undergraduates and inner-city Los Angeles high school students.
The semi-finalists were judged on certain criteria, such as how innovative the idea was, its implementation over a three-year timeline and how it would impact the future of Pepperdine. While all eight presenters had incredible plans, Founding Director for the Center of Sustainability Rhiannon Bailard received the largest grant of $150,000 for “The Eden Project,” a program to transform a residence hall into a sustainable, educational living area.
Other grants included $35,000 for “College Connections,” $82,800 for the “Center for Gameful Designs,” $83,000 for an “Executive Student Curriculum,” $69,300 for “Biodegradable Plastics” and $26,400 for “Pepperdine Executive Preceptorial.” Waves of Innovation is once again open to applications.
Follow Katrina Kirsch on Twitter: @Katrina_Kirsch
As published in the Jan. 16 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.