Dallas Baptist University Hosts Fall 2021 Big Idea Challenge Sponsored by the Lion’s Den DFW

Ben and Keaton Big Idea Challenge
Big Idea Challenge 1st Place Winners, Keaton May and Ben Huteson

"DBU strives to provide students with opportunities to learn and apply their knowledge in ways that address the needs and opportunities in the world. The Big Idea Challenge is a campus-wide idea pitch competition that encourages students to take what they are learning in their academic disciplines and use it to creatively address the problems we see around us." Sandra Crawford Williamson, DBU Professor and Big Idea Challenge Planning Team member

Dallas Baptist University proudly hosted the 2021 calendar year's second Big Idea Challenge (BIC) on campus this past December. Aiming to encourage students all across campus to put skills and topics covered in classes into practice, the BIC embodies the Vision Statement of DBU: to produce Christ-centered servant leaders who transform the world. Because of the hard work of the BIC 2021 Planning Team, the gracious support and sponsorship of the Lion's Den DFW, and the dedication of the challenge's participants, the BIC brought forth great success and innovation, as shown in the brilliant ideas presented by not only the top-three award winners, but of all those involved.

This fall's event was judged by Ed Pearce with the Lion's Den DFW, DBU Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurship student Jessica Fragoso, Professor Rick Jordan, and Dr. John McCuin. Cash prizes for the top three competitors were provided by the Lion's Den DFW and matching scholarship awards were given by Dallas Baptist University.

The third place award and scholarship was given to the team of Jaden Palmer, Gabbie Ferraro, Allison Clancy, and Josh Ballard. Their Big Idea, "What the Buzz," is a card game designed for 1st through 5th graders to help challenge students to develop social and communicative skills. Together, the team learned how to work alongside one another in a group setting in order to combine their ideas into something both fun and educational.

Emily Eldred left the BIC with the second place prize for her development of a new and more accurate way to test the emotional intelligence of an individual through the use of a double-blind study inspired by studies done by Daniel Goleman. Throughout the process of planning and executing her Big Idea, Emily explains that her favorite part of BIC was researching her topic: "I learned so much about the importance of emotional intelligence and how companies, psychologists, and teachers would benefit from a more accurate way of testing an individual's EQ levels." Emily also learned how to pitch her idea in under 5 minutes, compiled all her information into coherent presentation, and attended two special sessions taught by Professor Sandra Crawford Williamson.

Finally, the first place grand prize was awarded to Ben Huteson and Keaton May for their Big Idea, "BrightLife." BrightLife is a non-toxic spray formula that, when absorbed through a plant's stomata, makes plants glow. Based on the research done by MIT in 2017 and 2021, the purpose behind BrightLife is to supplement streetlights, cutting costs of lighting down to a third of what it would cost before, all while cleaning the air and cooling down cities through the shade and protection the plants would provide. Ben and Keaton worked closely with DBU's physical operations department to collect accurate numbers regarding how much it costs to run street lights. Joining forces for the BIC wasn't new for this team. "Keaton and I have known each other since 5th grade," Ben says. "The most exciting thing was getting to work as a team!"

Sifting through and reviewing the nearly fifty applicants for this year's challenge, planning, organizing, and carrying out the competition is no easy task. It takes a team of equally brilliant individuals found all across campus to make this challenge a reality. DBU extends great thanks to the BIC Planning Team, which consisted of Ms. Tamanno Hodjihanova, Prof. Sandra Crawford Williamson (who also served as the event's MC), Dr. John McCuin, Dr. Danny Rose, Dr. Joanne Hix, Dr. Mark Martin, Dr. Parnell Ryan, Dr. Justin Gandy, Dr. Sergiy Saydometov, and Dr. Ross O'Brian.

"It is critical for our students to be consistently challenged to think innovatively," says Prof. Williamson. "In today's changing world, forward thinking should be taught, nurtured, and rewarded. The Big Idea Challenge gives us an opportunity to bring students together from all the different colleges on campus to focus on and bring to life new, creative, and transformative ideas."

Written by Emmalie Ellis

Emmalie Ellis writes for the University Communications department at Dallas Baptist University.