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BW students create and pitch winning ideas for new 'STEM Femme Startup Week'

Photo of the BW STEM Femme Startup Week participants at Ohio Aerospace InstituteBaldwin Wallace University continues to open doors for college women seeking to break into STEM fields.

Fueled by a Changemaker Grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, BW's Center for Innovation & Growth, School of Business, and Engineering program teamed up with the Ohio Aerospace Institute to offer STEM Femme Startup Week.

The program looked to address the lack of pathways from college-to-career for female, undergraduate STEM students through an intensive workshop focused on the hard and soft professional skills needed for internships and careers at STEM startups.

Sustainable packaging challenge

Photo of the BW STEM Femme Startup Week participants at the NASA Glenn Research CenterOver spring break, 11 women in nine different STEM disciplines spent four days working on a challenge to brainstorm, design and prototype sustainable food packaging for a pitch competition.

Students also attended sessions on the engineering design process and business fundamentals led by experienced professionals, as well as coaching sessions to develop ideas and the entrepreneurial mindset.

Participants were also able to visit sites like NASA Glenn Research Center and Sears think[box] at Case Western Reserve University, where they used 3D printers to create prototype versions of their packaging designs.

Winning coffee pod

Winners of the first STEM Femme Startup Week, left to right, Aleyah Turner, Hannah Dill and Givaughna GarrettThe experience concluded with four team presentations in front of a panel of judges from six organizations representing the food industry, STEM firms and Cleveland's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The judges named team "Biopod" as this year's winner for their biodegradable "K-cup" proposal.

The winning team was comprised of freshman engineering major Hannah Dill, sophomore chemistry major Aleyah Turner and senior biology major Givaughna Garrett. Turner and Garrett are also BW STEM Scholars.

Seeking future program partners

BW hopes to identify more local startups and organizations interested in collaborating on the continued development of this program for the future with the goal of serving more students.

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