Regional college students can turn a piece of trash into cash in a new competition designed to tap their imagination, innovation and collaboration. In an effort to get the creative juices flowing, students are asked how much value they can squeeze out of a throwaway item.

The Creative Juice Collegiate Competition challenges student teams to create value out of a throwaway item and communicate a message of environmental responsibility. Teams chronicle their experiences on video and upload to YouTube for judging by some of the region’s top technology entrepreneurs and educators.

A team from Haywood Community College was the first to register for the competition in Western North Carolina. The Jazz Hands is comprised of students in Haywood Early College.  

All of the teams are competing for $5,000 in scholarship monies, as well as prizes and professional development opportunities. In the regional competition, the champion will face the winning regional teams from South Carolina, Oklahoma, Iowa and Oregon to compete for the Creative Juice grand prize trip to visit the Google headquarters in January.

A separate competition for all teams from HCC will occur after AdvantageWest has completed their competition. HCC’s competition is a demonstration of the commitment to entrepreneurship, creativity, and sustainability at the college. A first, second, and third place team will be selected and awarded $250, $150, and $100 respectively.

The concept for Creative Juice was developed by Pam Lewis of AdvantageWest Economic Development Group along with Troy Tolle of DigitalChalk online learning system; Bryan Toney, director of Appalachian State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship; and Dr. Phil Sanger, director of the Center for Rapid Product Realization at Western Carolina University. Creative Juice was created as a way to encourage entrepreneurship and the vital role it plays in the economic growth of rural regions across the United States and around the globe. The competition is also sponsored by DigitalChalk, AmericanGreen TV and Jute Networks.

“As part of AdvantageWest’s economic development strategy, we must continuously explore new and innovative paths to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said AdvantageWest CEO Dale Carroll. “We believe one of the best ways to accomplish this is by encouraging the use of technology and stimulating creativity in the young people of our region. They represent our future workforce and business owners.”  

The competition is a way to instill a sense of social responsibility in both students and community leaders. It is a venue for students to experience the value of imagination, communication, teamwork, critical thinking, leadership, and the power of global communication for a common cause. It will inspire our potential leaders of tomorrow while stimulating and celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship.

The competition begins September 11 when the throwaway item is revealed during a live webcast from the Carolina Connect conference at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Teams have 10 days from the time of the reveal to complete their video for judging. They will be evaluated in five areas: originality and creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation, environmental responsibility, critical thinking skills, and team building and leadership.

Judges for the regional competition are Erskine Bowles, UNC System; Rhett Weiss, Google Inc.; Ryan Allis, iContact; Kurt Mann, AmericanGreen TV; June Atkinson, NC Dept. of Public Instruction; and a representative of the NC Community College System.

To participate in Creative Juice, students must be enrolled in a university or community college in an undergraduate degree program. Teams should consist of 3 to 5 members. Team videos should capture the 10-day experience and explain the created value using the throwaway object. Videos will be evaluated on content and creativity, not production quality. Teams will be judged on how well they perform in these five areas: originality and creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation, environmental responsibility, critical thinking skills, and team building and leadership.

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